British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote in his Conservative group. The majority of his party colleagues expressed their confidence in the prime minister on Monday evening in London. The trigger for the vote was the affair about parties in Johnson’s official residence during the corona lockdown.
211 MPs from Johnson’s Tories voted for Johnson to stay as party leader, 148 MPs voted no confidence in him. In the British Conservatives, the office of Prime Minister is linked to that of party leader.
After months of criticism of Boris Johnson’s administration and integrity, internal party critics forced the vote of confidence. Under the Conservative statutes, the leader does not have to face routine re-election. A vote will only take place if at least 15 percent of the current 357 Tory MPs withdraw their confidence from the party leader. This is done in writing by notifying the head of the so-called 1922 Committee, which has represented the interests of conservative backbenchers for 99 years.
The quorum of 54 declarations of no confidence had been reached on Sunday, which is why 1922 chief Graham Brady appeared before the media on Monday morning. What the gray eminence had to say had already leaked out: in consultation with Downing Street, the vote should take place on the same day.
In doing so, Brady did the prime minister the same favor as his predecessor Theresa May did in December 2018. In general, a quick vote is considered to be advantageous for the incumbent. This makes any collusion between different faction groups and their leaders difficult, if not impossible.
In Westminster, the government district, it is considered unlikely that the surviving vote of no confidence will end the internal party quarrels, as Johnson had sworn to do. On the one hand, the 57-year-old, who once ruled the capital London as a Liberal Conservative, has moved further and further to the right in recent months and has thus strained the patience of former companions like Jesse Norman.
In addition, many government initiatives are conspicuous for their grandiose slogans and inadequate implementation. On the other hand, the wife of party leader Norman demonstrated what competent government action looks like: Kate Bingham managed the corona vaccination program, with which the country made an impression worldwide last year.
At the same time, impatience was growing among veteran right-wing parliamentarians. At the end of last month, for example, Arch-Brexiteer John Baron withdrew his confidence in the boss on the brief grounds that he had “deceived Parliament”.
The accusation relates to the more than a dozen corona parties at the seat of government in Downing Street, which have outraged the country for months. Johnson initially claimed there were no parties; he later denied any knowledge of their preparation, claiming he mistook meetings with alcohol and snacks “for work meetings.”
Top official Sue Gray denounced the “failure of leadership and judgment” in an investigative report. According to the investigation report, there was partying and drinking at 10 Downing Street into the morning, there were fights, red wine and vomit clung to the walls. There is a photograph of Johnson at one such party, glass in hand, glassy-eyed, giving a speech.
The Tories are on the verge of fresh defeats after a major setback in local elections in early May, further tarnishing Johnson’s reputation as a consistent electoral winner. Nationwide, the Conservatives have been trailing opposition leader Keir Starmer’s Labor Party for months.
On Sunday, new bad news shocked all those Tory MPs whose seats are at risk in the next election, which is expected to be held in mid-2024. According to polls, the Conservatives are likely to lose significantly in two by-elections on the symbolically important June 23 – the sixth anniversary of the Brexit referendum. Both elected officials had to resign after sex scandals.
More than half a dozen Tories have been embroiled in scandals since the beginning of the legislature. This is possibly an indication that the Conservatives have become all too sure of their cause after their clear election victory in December 2019 and meanwhile twelve years of government. The prime minister’s behavior contributed to this impression.