UK PM Boris Johnson wins no-confidence vote but suffers large Tory rebellion

More than 40 per cent of his MPs voted against him

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a no-confidence vote in his leadership of the Conservative Party.

211 Tory MPs voted that they had confidence in Johnson’s leadership while 148 voted against him. That means over 40 per cent of his MPs are against him.

Johnson called his confidence vote win “decisive”, adding that it was a “convincing” result and “an opportunity to put behind us all the stuff that the media goes on about”.

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The vote share against Johnson was higher than the 37 per cent (117 votes) received by former Prime Minister Theresa May when she won a party confidence vote in 2018. May resigned six months later over a Brexit deadlock.

The result sees the Prime Minister remain in office, however critics argue that the scale of the rebellion against him proves that his authority had been weakened.

On Monday (June 6) it was revealed that enough MPs had written to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, to trigger the vote. It took place between 6pm and 8pm in the House of Commons and the result was announced at 9pm.

At least 54 MPs (15 per cent of Tory MPs) had challenged the Prime Minister by submitting letters. In order for Johnson to be ousted, half of all Conservative MPs plus one were needed to vote against him (180 MPs overall).

Johnson is now immune from another such challenge for a year.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson CREDIT: Matt Dunham – Pool / Getty Images

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The motion of no confidence follows Sue Gray’s damning final report into the COVID lockdown breaking parties – the so-called Partygate scandalfor which Johnson received a fixed penalty notice in April. He became the first sitting British Prime Minister to have been found to have broken the law.

But Johnson has been marred by criticism of his leadership more generally, as reflected most recently by the reception he and his wife, Carrie, received over the Platinum Jubilee weekend. The pair were greeted with a mixture of cheers and – largely – jeers as they entered St Paul’s cathedral for Queen Elizabeth II’s thanksgiving service.

According to a report by The Telegraph, Tory rebels were circulating a memo over the weekend that allegedly stated: “The booing of Boris Johnson at the Jubilee Thanksgiving service tells us nothing that data does not. There is no social group that trusts him, with even 55 per cent of current Conservatives calling him untrustworthy, against only 25 per cent saying he is trustworthy.”

It was said that Johnson was “no longer an electoral asset”, predicting that “if left in post [he] will lead the Party to a substantial defeat in 2024. He will lose Red Wall seats (with majorities under 10,000) to Labour, and Blue Wall seats (majorities up to 20,000) to the Liberal Democrats”.

Despite the motion of no confidence, many MPs loyal to Johnson rallied round him including the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. He said that the Prime Minister has “shown the strong leadership our country needs”. Sunak was also fined in April.

Following the result Sunak tweeted: “The PM has won the confidence vote and now it’s time to move forward. Tomorrow we get back to work growing the economy and delivering better public services.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote: “Pleased that colleagues have backed the Prime Minister. I support him 100%. Now’s the time to get on with the job.”

Meanwhile, Johnson is set to be investigated by a Commons committee over claims that he misled Parliament about parties in Downing Street during lockdown.

Under government guidelines, ministers who knowingly mislead the House of Commons are expected to resign.

 

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