Boris Johnson fights on: what’s next?

Boris Johnson fights on: what's next?

Boris Johnson has made it clear he is adamant in carrying on (Image: Reuters)

A defiant Boris Johnson has made it clear he will not relinquish power, despite calls for ministers and MPs across the Tory party to step down.

No prime minister in modern history has attempted to cling to office in the face of such overwhelming opposition from his own side.

It places the ball firmly in the court of those who believe its position has become untenable.

But as he stood on the precipice, Mr Johnson held back by sacking “traitorous” cabinet rival Michael Gove and promising to “outline a new economic program of tax cuts, deregulation and the benefits of Brexit”.

– What can be done to remove Mr Johnson from No 10?

The focus is initially on the cabinet.

So far, most of Mr Johnson’s top teams remain in their positions, although Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those urging him to leave.

Mass resignations of the cabinet – accompanied by further resignations in the lower ranks – could be enough to force him into action if it means he is unable to form a functioning government.

However, there is no guarantee that this will happen, especially if the Prime Minister is determined to continue with an exhausted government.

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– What else is there?

Next it’s back to Conservative MPs when they want to make a fresh push to oust him.

Traditionally, it would be for Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 chairman of the Backbench Committee, to go to the Prime Minister and tell him that he had lost the support of his MPs and should go.

Failing that, elections will be held on Monday for the 1922 Executive, which is responsible for setting the rules of leadership.

Mr Johnson is currently safe from another vote of confidence for 12 months after coming through a challenge last month.

If he’s still in office, however, the new executive is likely to consider a rule change that could allow for a second vote of confidence — possibly ahead of MPs’ summer recess later this month.

In this photo provided by the UK Parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, Wednesday June 15, 2022. (Jessica Taylor/British Parliament via AP)

Mr Johnson began fighting back on Wednesday (Image: AP)

– If he loses such a vote, would Mr Johnson have to leave?

That would put him out as party leader – but not necessarily as prime minister.

He could reportedly refuse to leave a prime minister and instead call early general elections – citing his mandate of 14 million voters in the last general election.

That would clearly be a nuclear option, raising a host of practical issues.

Some senior Tories believe senior officials would try to deter him and warn it would be “inappropriate” to put the Queen in a “difficult position” by asking for a dissolution in such circumstances.

But would he listen?

– So what is the endgame?

Under the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution, every Prime Minister derives his authority from his ability to get his government’s business through Parliament.

If the government loses an important piece of legislation – particularly a monetary bill – the prime minister is expected to leave.

Alternatively, Tory MPs could join forces with the opposition to defeat him in a vote of confidence in the House of Commons – something they would normally be very reluctant to do.

And when all that fails, the country is really breaking new ground.

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Justin Scacco

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