August 15, 2022

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After Britain’s Boris Johnson was injured, he just survived his party’s vote of confidence

After Britain's Boris Johnson was injured, he just survived his party's vote of confidence
  • 148 of 359 Conservative MPs vote against Johnson
  • The mood of “Partijit” in the Prime Minister’s party

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a confidence vote on Monday, but a major rebellion in his party over the so-called “party gateway” scandal dealt a blow to his power and left him in a struggle to win. Wide back support.

Johnson, who won a landslide election victory in 2019, is under mounting pressure after he and his staff threw alcohol-filled parties in his Downing Street office and residence when Britain was under a strict lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was met with a chorus of derision and boos, and some silent cheers, at events marking Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee in recent days.

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Several lawmakers said the vote, which saw Johnson vote 211 to 148, was worse than expected for a prime minister who once seemed irreplaceable after winning the largest Conservative majority in more than three decades.

“Boris Johnson will feel comfortable with this vote. But he will also understand that the next priority is rebuilding party cohesion,” former minister David Jones told Reuters. “I’m sure he will be up to the challenge.”

Others were less optimistic, with one Tory lawmaker saying on condition of anonymity: “It’s obviously much worse than most people expected. But it’s too early to say what will happen now.”

Roger Gill, a longtime critic of Johnson, urged the prime minister to “go back to Downing Street tonight and think carefully about where he goes from here”.

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By winning the confidence vote, Johnson secured a 12-month reprieve when lawmakers cannot present another challenge. But his predecessor, Theresa May, scored better in her confidence vote in 2018, but resigned after six months. Read more

Johnson said after the vote that he was not interested in holding an early national election.

“I think it’s a compelling result, a decisive outcome and what it means is that as a government we can go ahead and focus on the things that I think really matter to people,” he told reporters.

Dozens of Conservative Party lawmakers have expressed concern over whether Johnson, 57, has lost his authority to govern Britain, which faces the threat of recession, soaring fuel and food prices and the travel chaos caused by strikes in London.

But his cabinet rallied around him and highlighted what they described as the government’s successes: the swift rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson vs. May: Comparing Votes of Confidence

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A majority of Tory lawmakers – at least 180 – should have voted against Johnson to remove him.

Earlier, a spokesman for Johnson’s Downing Street office said the vote would “allow the government to put an end to it and move forward” and that the prime minister would welcome the opportunity to make his case to lawmakers. Read more

Johnson, the former mayor of London, rose to power in Westminster as the face of the Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, winning the 2019 election with the slogan “End Brexit”.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister for Brexit Opportunities, told Sky News that completing Brexit would be “at great risk without his motivation and energy”.

Johnson got into an argument with Brussels over Northern Ireland, raising the prospect of more barriers to British trade, and alarming leaders in Ireland, Europe and the United States about the risks to the 1998 peace deal in the territory.

But it was the most famous stories of what happened in Downing Street, including fights and alcohol-induced vomiting, when many people were forbidden to say goodbye to loved ones at funerals, causing the real damage.

The move led to lawmakers from across the party’s wings revealing their turn against their leader. A former ally accused the prime minister of insulting voters and the party by staying in power.

“I presided over the culture of casually breaking the law at 10 Downing Street in relation to COVID,” Jesse Norman, a former secretary of state, said before the vote.

Johnson’s anti-corruption chief, John Penrose, also resigned.

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Additional reporting by David Milliken, William James, Alistair Smoot, Farouk Suleiman and Helena Williams. Editing by William Schomberg and Grant McCall

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.