By Jill Lawless – The Associated Press
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson scrambled on Tuesday to repair his shattered authority after Surviving a vote of no confidence This exposed deep divisions in his conservative party and raised serious doubts about how long he could stay in office.
Under party rules, Johnson is now free from another challenge for a year. But former prime ministers who faced a vote of no-confidence have taken ultimate damage — and a growing number of Conservative lawmakers fear that Johnson is famous for pleasing people It is now tainted by a “party” morality scandal and a burden to voters.
However, Johnson vowed to “get the job” and focus on “what matters to the British people” – which he defined with the economy, healthcare and crime – after Conservative lawmakers voted 211 to 148 to support him as leader.
“We are now able to draw a line under the issues our opponents want to talk about” and “move the country forward,” Johnson told his cabinet colleagues.
But the scale of the insurgency has raised serious questions about its ability to govern at a time of mounting economic and social pressures. Former Conservative Party leader William Hague has called for Johnson to step down, saying “the damage to his premiership is severe”.
In an article in The Times of London, Hague wrote: “Irreversible words have been spoken, indelible reports published, and votes cast showing a level of disapproval greater than any Conservative leader has endured and survived.” It was sprayed across the British media.
“This is not over,” echoed Philip Dunn, the Conservative MP who voted against Johnson in Monday’s no-confidence vote.
The vote took place because at least 54 Tory lawmakers, 15% of the party’s parliamentary bloc, called for Johnson to be challenged.
Johnson needed the support of 180 of the 359 Conservative lawmakers to stay in power. He got more than that – but although he called the win “convincing”, the rebellion was bigger than some of his supporters had expected.
The margin was narrower than that obtained by his predecessor, Theresa May, in a vote of no confidence in 2018. She was forced to resign after six months.
“It would be a huge blow. I think they would worry that this story is not over yet,” said Tim Bell, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. The truth is that these contests have a habit of revealing how weak the authority of the Prime Minister Minister is.
The rebellion was also a sign of deep divisions within the Conservative ranks, less than three years after Johnson led the party to his biggest electoral victory in decades. Most British newspapers had no doubt that it was bad news for a leader who had previously always shown an uncommon ability to shrug off scandals.
The pro-Conservative Daily Telegraph declared a “hollow victory tearing Torres apart”, while the Times described Johnson as a “wounded victor” and the left-leaning Daily Mirror bluntly declared: “The party is over, Boris.”
But some loyal supporters tried to bypass Tuesday’s vote. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the party should “draw a line in the sand after this vote”.
“It was won so clearly and decisively,” he said.
The vote came on the heels of months of growing discontent over the prime minister’s ethics and judgment that has centered around him Disclosure of outlaw parties In the Prime Minister’s office when Britain was under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
In last month’s report on the Party Gate scandal, civil service investigator Sue Gray described the alcohol-fueled protests by Downing Street staff in 2020 and 2021, when pandemic restrictions prevented UK residents from socializing or even visiting dying relatives. Gray said Johnson and senior officials should be held accountable for “failures of leadership and governance” that created a culture of rule-breaking in government.
Johnson was also fined 50 pounds ($63) by police for attending one party, making him the first prime minister to be punished for breaking the law while in office.
The prime minister said he felt “humbled” and took “full responsibility” – but continued to defend his party attendance as essential to staff morale and called some of the “party” criticism unfair.
Johnson still faces a parliamentary ethics investigation over his “party gate”, and his government is also under heavy pressure to ease the pain of spiraling energy and food bills, while managing the fallout from Brexit.
Opinion polls give the opposition centre-left Labor Party the nationwide lead, and Johnson will face more pressure if the Conservatives lose special elections later this month for two parliamentary constituencies, which were called when incumbent Tory lawmakers were forced out over sex scandals.
Bell said Johnson would likely resist with tax cuts and other policies designed to appeal to his right-leaning party base.
He said: “The problem with that is that it proposes, if you like, political solutions to a personal problem. It appears from the polls that the public has turned against Boris Johnson in particular, which is partly why the Conservative Party is dragging a party downstairs.”
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