Damaged British Boris Johnson scrapes victory in party confidence vote

  • Major Conservative Party uprising hits Prime Minister
  • Johnson says it’s ‘decisive result’
  • COVID-19 ‘Partygate’ Sours Mood

LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a confidence vote on Monday, but a major uprising in his Conservative party over the so-called “partygate” scandal dealt a blow to his authority, leaving him with a struggle to win back support.

Johnson, who won a landslide election in 2019, is under mounting pressure after he and staff held alcohol-based parties at his Downing Street office and residence as Britain went into lockdown to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote was a blow to Johnson, with 41% of his lawmakers voting against his leadership after months of scandals and gaffes that have raised questions about his authority to rule Britain and tarnished his standing among the public.

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But Johnson, a master of political comebacks, instead described the vote as a “decisive outcome,” meaning “we can move forward as a government and focus on the things I think really matter to people.” “.

“We can focus on what we’re doing to help people with living costs, what we’re doing to clear the COVID backlog, what we’re doing to make streets and communities safer by deploying more police,” he said. johnson. , who has spent weeks trying to take the national conversation away from “partygate”. read more

It is a change of fortune for Johnson and underlines the deep anger against him. He has been greeted in recent days with a chorus of cheers and boos, and some muffled cheers, at events to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee.

Several lawmakers said the vote, with 211 lawmakers voting in Johnson’s favor to 148, was worse than expected for a prime minister, once seemingly untouchable after gaining the Conservatives’ largest majority in more than three decades.

“Boris Johnson will be relieved by this vote. But he will also understand that the next priority is to restore party cohesion,” David Jones, a former government minister, told Reuters. “I’m sure he’s up to the challenge.”

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

Longtime critic of Johnson, Roger Gale urged the Prime Minister “to return to Downing Street tonight and consider very carefully where he goes from here”.

12 MONTHS DELAY

By winning the confidence vote, Johnson has been given a 12-month reprieve when lawmakers are unable to take on a new challenge. But his predecessor Theresa May scored better in her 2018 confidence vote and resigned six months later. read more

Dozens of conservative lawmakers have expressed concern over whether Johnson, 57, has lost his authority to rule Britain, which faces the risk of a recession, rising fuel and food prices and strike-induced travel chaos in the capital London .

But his cabinet gathered around him, highlighting what they believed to be the government’s successes: a rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson vs May: Confidence Votes Compared

A majority of Conservative 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 enable the government to draw the line and move forward” and that the prime minister welcomed the opportunity to make his case before lawmakers. read more

Johnson, a former mayor of London, rose to power in Westminster as the face of the Brexit campaign in a 2016 referendum and won the 2019 election with the slogan “get Brexit done”.

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News that completing Britain’s exit from the European Union “would be significantly jeopardized without his drive and energy”.

Johnson has closed horns with Brussels on 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 province’s 1998 peace agreement.

But it was the months of stories of what happened on Downing Street, including fights and alcohol-induced vomiting, when many people were prevented from saying goodbye to loved ones at funerals, that did the real damage.

The move led lawmakers from different wings of the party to reveal that they had turned against their leader. A former ally accused the prime minister of insulting both the electorate and the party by remaining in power.

“You have been presiding over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street related to COVID,” said Jesse Norman, a former secretary of state, before the vote.

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

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Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by David Milliken, William James, Alistair Smout, Farouq Suleiman and Helena Williams; Editing by William Schomberg and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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