For all the wine and cheese at 10 Downing Street during the Covid-induced lockdown, the boat of governance has survived a political storm despite a leaky hull. The verdict was too close for comfort and the result has left Boris Johnson wounded. Mr Johnson will remain the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, having survived a no-confidence vote on Monday. He remains in office after lawmakers from his Conservative party conducted a vote to determine whether he should keep his job. He needed a simple majority of the 359 Conservative members of Parliament to vote in his favour. He won that with 211 supporting him and 148 voting against him, and it is the latter figure that will concern him.
Traditionally a vote of no-confidence in the party is triggered if leaders receive letters of request from at least 15 per cent of sitting members of Parliament. Conservative Party official Graham Brady said that threshold had been passed. As in India, the Prime Minister is not directly elected to serve in the role but appointed by the political party that secures a majority. Had Mr Johnson lost the vote on Monday, the Conservative Party, which holds the majority, would have chosen a new leader.
Earlier this month, Mr Johnson was fined by the police for breaking the law after an investigation found that he and his colleagues had held and attended parties during the height of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in 2020. Known as the “party gate” scandal, the revelation that government officials were having wine and cheese at 10 Downing Street ~ all caught in photographs ~ while members of the public were prevented from visiting dying relatives under Covid-19 restrictions had sparked mass outrage. An internal government investigation found there had been “failures of leadership and judgment,” and that the “senior leadership team” should be held responsible.
Despite leading his Conservative Party to a landslide victory in the 2019 general election, Mr John- son’s popularity has plummeted in recent months and several of his party members had called on him to resign. “You are simply seeking to campaign, to keep changing the subject and to create political and cultural dividing lines mainly for your advantage, at a time when the economy is struggling, inflation is soaring, and growth is anaemic,” longtime supporter and former cabinet minister Jesse Norman said in a letter to the Prime Minister published on Monday. Mr Norman called some of the Prime Minister’s policies “ugly,” “foolhardy” and “almost certainly illegal.” But other Conservative lawmakers believed it was the wrong time for a change in party leadership. “It is crucial that we show people we are delivering on the change they voted for in 2019,” said Cabinet Minister Steve Barclay, a Johnson ally, in a post on the Conservative Party website.