No vote of confidence: Boris Johnson faces fate after Tory party poll

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Boris Johnson survived a vote of confidence but emerges with his authority badly battered.

The Prime Minister won the election 211-148, a victory that secured his seat at Downing Street but by no means ended the political peril into which his government was thrown.

His majority of 63 means he’s closer to falling than Theresa May was in 2018 and no bettering the 63% support she secured.

Tory rebels sparked a vote on whether he should continue at Downing Street after months of scandal, with momentum picking up following the publication of the Sue Gray report.

Partygate has weakened Mr Johnson’s position in his own party and internal criticism of the Prime Minister has mounted, despite there being no obvious candidate to take over.

His victory means he is technically safe in Number 10, but with dozens of his own MPs in open revolt and an ongoing investigation into whether he misled Parliament, the political danger is far from over.

Mr Johnson will be well aware that Ms May also survived a vote of confidence but was forced to resign just six months later.

Nevertheless, he tried to put a positive spin on the result, saying: “I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country.

Boris Johnson and Kaja Kallas

Boris Johnson met Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas today (Image: EPA)

“I think it’s a compelling result, a crucial result, and it means that as a government we can move on and focus on the things that I think people really care about.”

The result also raises questions about a possible cabinet reshuffle, the timing of the next election and how many of his own MPs will run for a prime minister they don’t support when the country goes to the polls.

The decision was made by Conservative MPs who voted in secret tonight, a two-hour exclusive election that required a simple majority in either direction to confirm a result.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and influential pro-Brexit rebel Steve Baker were among the high-profile names who voted to oust Mr Johnson.

Liz Truss’ parliamentary private secretary, John Lamont, resigned his government post to vote against the prime minister.

The threshold of 15% of the group’s letters needed to trigger a vote was reached on Sunday night after weeks of a growing number of MPs calling for change.

Boris Johnson

PM remains under investigation for misleading Parliament over Partygate (Image: AP)

Under Tory party rules, a leader who survives a vote of confidence cannot face another for 12 months, although some in the party have speculated this could be changed.

Considered untouchable a year ago, the prime minister had to ask his own party not to oust him at a 1922 committee meeting two hours before the election.

In a letter to MPs ahead of the vote, he called it a chance “to put an end to the media’s pet obsession”.

Tory whips would have hoped to keep the rebellion in double figures and beat the Theresa May result, but ministers put on a brave face in public.

Speaking to Sky News, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I think it’s important to remember that no matter what side of the argument you’re on, we all believe in democracy.

“It was a vote, the prime minister won comfortably.”

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer responded by saying Tory MPs had “ignored the British public and firmly attached themselves and their party to Boris Johnson and all he represented”.

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He called it “grotesque” that the day after the Platinum Jubilee weekend, the Tory party had “threw the Queen’s values ​​on the bonfire”.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the result “leagues Britain with an absolutely lame Prime Minister”.

The vote is the culmination of an extraordinary eight months in which the Prime Minister’s standing has plummeted within his own party and across the country.

Mr Johnson cemented his election-winning status when he decimated Labor in the December 2019 election, five months after replacing Theresa May at Downing Street.

He reached deep into parts of the country previously seen as no-go areas for Tory politicians, winning a large majority on the back of a pro-Brexit message.

In May 2021 he led his party to a symbolic victory in the Hartlepool by-election and in September it was reported that he was planning a decade in power but his fate would soon turn.

Two years and 317 days after taking office – one less than when Gordon Brown was prime minister – the prospects for Mr Johnson are very different.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, centre, speaks during a cabinet meeting with Conservative Party leader Oliver Dowden, clockwise from bottom left, Welsh Minister Simon Hart, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi, International Trade Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan, Health Secretary Sajid Javid , Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Scottish Minister Alister Jack, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, Secretary for Brexit Options and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office Jacob Rees-Mogg, Attorney General Suella Braverman , Chris Heaton-Harris MP Treasury Secretary (Chief Whip), unknown, Speaker of the House of Commons Mark Spencer, Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Parish Secretary Michael Gove and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay at 10 Downing Street eet, London, Tuesday 2 May 4, 2022. (Daniel Leal/Pool via AP)

The Prime Minister avoided major cabinet resignations or leadership changes within his team (Image: AP)

Things began to unravel in October 2021, when he hatched a botched plan to overtake Parliament’s ethics watchdog and spare Owen Paterson, a former minister who has been shown to have broken lobbying rules, a suspension from the House of Commons.

The episode ended in a complete about-face but damaged relations with his own backbenchers, many of whom were furious when asked to support a colleague who had been shown to be flouting Parliament’s rules.

Revelations soon followed about Downing Street parties during lockdown, a scandal that has rocked Mr Johnson’s government and is still under investigation by the body responsible for investigating allegations that ministers had Parliament misled.

Controversial tax policies and the sending of asylum seekers to Rwanda have further strained relations with his own MPs, particularly the large minority who never supported his election as party leader.

While supporters of the PM have dismissed much of the criticism of Mr Johnson as “Westminster bubble” fare, opinion polls have shown voters were paying attention.

Labor have built a clear lead and a recent poll of battlefield seats showed the Tories are headed for an electoral disaster under Mr Johnson, who faces the prospect of losing his own seat in London.

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Justin Scacco

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