InQueensland

NEWS •⁠ POLITICS •⁠ BUSINESS •⁠ CULTURE

Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Down for the count but gets up swinging: Boris lives to fight another day

Politics

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described his victory in a vote of confidence on his leadership as “decisive”, despite almost 150 MPs from his own party trying to remove him.

Print article

The large rebellion in his Conservative Party over the so-called partygate scandal has dealt a blow to his authority and leaves him with a struggle to win back broad support.

Johnson, who scored a sweeping election victory in 2019, has been under increasing pressure after he and staff held alcohol-fuelled parties in his Downing Street office and residence when Britain was under strict lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic.



He was met with a chorus of jeers and boos, and some muted cheers, at events to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee in recent days.

Several politicians said the vote, which saw 211 MPs cast ballots in favour of Johnson compared to 148 against, was worse than expected for a prime minister once seemingly unassailable after winning the Conservatives’ largest majority in more than three decades.

“Boris Johnson will be relieved at this vote. But he will also understand that the next priority is to rebuild the cohesion of the party,” David Jones, a former minister, told Reuters.

“I am sure he will be equal to the challenge.”

Others were less optimistic, with one Conservative politician saying on condition of anonymity: “It is clearly much worse than most people were expecting. But it is too early to say what will happens now.”

North Thanet MP Roger Gale, a long-time critic of Johnson, urged the prime minister “to go back to Downing Street tonight and consider very carefully where he goes from here”.

By winning the confidence vote, Johnson has secured a reprieve for 12 months when MPs cannot bring another challenge.

Johnson described the result as “convincing” and said he was not interested in holding a snap national election.

“It’s a convincing result, a decisive result and what it means is that as a government we can move on and focus on the stuff that really matters to people,” he told reporters.

Dozens of Conservative MPs have voiced concern over whether Johnson, 57, has lost his authority to govern Britain, which is facing the risk of recession, rising fuel and food prices and strike-inflicted travel chaos in the capital London.

But his cabinet rallied around him and highlighted what they said were the successes of the government: a quick rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations and Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A majority of the Conservatives’ MPs – at least 180 – would have had to vote against Johnson for him to be removed.

Johnson, a former London mayor, rose to power at Westminster as the face of the Brexit campaign in a 2016 referendum, and won the 2019 election with the slogan to “get Brexit done”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit opportunities minister, told Sky News completing Britain’s departure from the European Union would be “significantly at risk without (Johnson’s) drive and energy”.

The prime minister has locked horns with Brussels over Northern Ireland, raising the prospect of more barriers for British trade and alarming leaders in Ireland, Europe and the United States about risks to the province’s 1998 peace deal.

But it was the months of stories of what went on in Downing Street, including fights and alcohol-induced vomiting, when many people were prevented from saying goodbye to loved ones at funerals, that did the real damage.

The move led to politicians from different wings of the party revealing they had turned against their leader.

One former ally accused the prime minister of insulting the electorate and the party by staying in power.

“You have presided over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street in relation to Covid,” Jesse Norman, a former junior minister, said before the vote.

Johnson’s anti-corruption chief John Penrose also quit.

-Reuters

More Politics stories

Loading next article