Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, survived a no-confidence vote on Monday, earning enough support from his Conservative Party to save his job despite a revolt that has left him weakened and facing an unclear future.
The charismatic leader, who is known for his ability to shrug off crises, has struggled to move on from reports that he and his staff held alcoholic parties in violation of the COVID-19 limitations they put on others. Support among his Conservative colleagues has dwindled, as some regard the leader, who is known for his ability to connect with voters, as more of a problem than an advantage in elections.
Mr. Johnson received the support of 211 Conservative members out of 359
Mr. Johnson received the support of 211 Conservative members out of 359, which is more than the simple majority required to stay in office but still represents a considerable rebellion of 148 MPs. Most political pundits thought he would beat the challenge because there was no clear front-runner to follow him.
However, the uprising is a watershed moment for him — and a symptom of deep Conservative splits, coming less than three years after Mr. Johnson led the party to its largest electoral triumph in decades.
Mr. Johnson’s margin of victory is narrower than that of his predecessor, Theresa May, who won a comparable referendum in December 2018. Six months later, she was compelled to quit.
Mr. Johnson, a charismatic leader known for his ability to connect with voters, has struggled to move on from disclosures that he and his staff held alcoholic parties in violation of the COVID-19 prohibitions that they imposed on others.
Mr. Johnson has guided Britain out of the European Union
Mr. Johnson has guided Britain out of the European Union and through a pandemic since entering office in 2019, both of which have shaken the United Kingdom socially and economically. Mr. Johnson’s government is under great pressure to lessen the pain of soaring energy and food prices, and the vote comes at a critical time.
Graham Brady, a Conservative Party official, stated Monday that he had received letters from at least 54 Tory legislators requesting a no-confidence vote, which is required by party rules. Several hours later, dozens of party politicians lined up in a corridor at Parliament to cast their votes in a wood-paneled room, turning over their phones as they entered to preserve privacy.
According to Mr. Johnson’s Downing Street office, the vote is “an opportunity to put an end to months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on.”
Before the vote, Mr. Johnson addressed dozens of Conservative legislators in a House of Commons chamber, promising: “I will lead you to victory again.”
“Tonight, we have an opportunity to put an end to the media’s obsession with the Conservative Party’s leadership… We have the opportunity to stop talking about ourselves and focus solely on others,” he remarked.
After a 10-day parliamentary recess that included a long weekend of celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the discontent that had been building for months erupted. For many, the four-day weekend provided a chance to unwind — but not for Mr. Johnson, who was booed by some observers as he arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday for service in the queen’s honor.
Mr. Brady noted that while several members who submitted no-confidence letters requested that they be postponed until after the jubilee weekend, the barrier was nonetheless crossed on Sunday.
Mr. Johnson’s supporters argued that if he wins by a single vote, he will continue in office. Previous prime ministers, on the other hand, who had survived no-confidence ballots, had been badly weakened.
Mr. Johnson was elected Prime Minister in July 2019, capping a wild ride to the top. He had served in high-ranking positions, including London mayor and UK Foreign Secretary, yet he had also stepped down from politics due to self-inflicted gaffes. He kept coming back, demonstrating an uncanny capacity to shrug off scandal and connect with people, which for many Conservatives outweighed concerns about his ethics and judgment.
Concerns were raised, however, with the release of an investigator’s report late last month, which lambasted a culture of rule-breaking inside the Prime Minister’s Office in the “partygate” controversy.
According to the Sue Gray assessment, there was a ‘failure of leadership’
When pandemic regulations barred U.K. people from socialising or even seeing dying relatives, civil service inspector Sue Gray detailed alcohol-fueled parties staged by Downing Street staff members in 2020 and 2021.
Ms. Gray stated that “failures of leadership and judgment” must be held accountable by the “senior leadership team.”
Mr. Johnson was also fined 50 pounds ($63) by police for attending one party, making him the first Prime Minister to be sanctioned while in office for breaching the law.
The Prime Minister expressed his “humbleness” and acceptance of “full responsibility,” but stated that he would not quit. He asked Britons to “move on” and concentrate on repairing the economy and assisting Ukraine in its defense against a Russian invasion.
Johnson is a liability
However, a rising number of Conservatives believe that Mr. Johnson is now a liability who would consign the party to defeat in the 2024 election. Jeremy Hunt, who ran against Johnson for the Conservative leadership in 2019 but has generally refrained from attacking him since, stated, “Today’s decision is a change or lose.” “I’m going to vote for change.”
Longtime Johnson supporter Jesse Norman claimed that the Prime Minister had “presided over a culture of casual law-breaking” and had left the administration “adrift and preoccupied.”
Another Tory politician, John Penrose, resigned as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “anti-corruption champion” on Monday, claiming that Mr. Johnson had broken the government code of conduct with the behavior shown by partygate.
Ministers are backing Johnson
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, one of the front-runners to succeed Mr. Johnson, tweeted, “The Prime Minister has my 100 percent backing in today’s vote, and I urge encourage colleagues to support him.”
Mr. Johnson is expected to face further pressure despite his triumph. The administration is being weighed down by the war in Ukraine, a smoldering post-Brexit dispute with the EU, and increasing inflation. According to polls, the left-of-center opposition Labour Party is leading nationally, and the Conservatives may lose special elections for two parliamentary districts later this month, which were called after incumbent Tory legislators were thrown out due to sex scandals.
Mr. Johnson tried to stay on topic, promising colleagues that he would lower taxes — a popular Conservative objective — and mentioning that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday. He has been a prominent backer of Ukraine’s cause, and his potential successors are likely to follow in his footsteps. Toppling Johnson now would be “indefensible,” according to Cabinet Minister Steve Barclay, a Johnson loyalist.
“The difficulties we face aren’t easy to solve,” he said on the Conservative Home website, “but Conservatives have the appropriate approach to address them.” “To stymie that progress now would be unforgivable to many of those who voted for us for the first time in the last general election, and who want to see our Prime Minister deliver on the promises he made to their communities.”
Mr. Baker, a staunch Brexit supporter whose resistance to Ms. May aided Mr. Johnson’s rise to power, said he was voting for Mr. Johnson to be removed from office because the Prime Minister had broken the law. Before the election, he predicted that Johnson would “officially win,” but that this would not be the end of the problem. “I’m not sure what that means in the months ahead,” Mr. Baker added.