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Johnson vs Tories

If Mr Johnson loses a confidence vote, it will lead to a contest to replace him as Conservative leader. The winner would also become Prime Minister. If Mr Johnson wins, he will be safe for a year.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

For all his defiance in the face of calls for his resignation, Britain’s Prime Minister appears to soldier on, at any rate for now. Boris Johnson’s fairly robust performance in Parliament on Wednesday may turn out to be rather late in the day to forestall a push ~ as distinct from a shove ~ by his Conservative colleagues to remove him over a series of government parties that had flouted lockdown restrictions.

There is little doubt though that he has his back to the wall, given the fact that inhouse pressure has been ratcheted up over the past few days. One Tory legislator has defected to the opposition Labour Party, and a former Conservative minister has told him to his face, “In the name of God, go!” The demand from former Brexit Secretary David Davis came during a “combative” Prime Minister’s session of Questions in the House of Commons. During the session, Mr Johnson had defended his government’s record in running the economy, fighting crime, and above all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The allegation that the Prime Minister and his staff violated government restrictions have helped Labour to open up a “double-digit” opinion poll lead over the Conservatives. The nub of the matter must be that Mr Johnson doesn’t have to face the electorate until the next general election in 2024. Nonetheless, his major danger is from his own Conservative Party, which has a history of ousting leaders once they become liabilities.

The Tories are now reflecting on whether to trigger a no-confidence vote amid the public anger over the scandal called “partygate”. Altogether, the past couple of weeks bear witness to a stunning reversal of fortune for a politician who just two years ago led the Conservatives to their most spectacular election victory in 40 years. Going by party rules, a no-confidence vote in the leader can be triggered if 54 lawmakers ~ 15 per cent of the party’s total in the House of Commons ~ write to a party official demanding his ouster.

If Mr Johnson loses a confidence vote, it will lead to a contest to replace him as Conservative leader. The winner would also become Prime Minister. If Mr Johnson wins, he will be safe for a year. On Wednesday, he announced that he was withdrawing mask mandates and many other coronavirus restrictions as he tried to change the subject and airbrush questions about the controversy. He said face masks would not be legally enforced; Covid passes would not be mandatory, and the advice to “work from home” would be discontinued.

Referring to the proposed scrapping of face masks, Mr Johnson said, “We will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one.” While defying calls to quit, the British Prime Minister has lifted Covid curbs, thus playing to the gallery of the people