British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote Monday night, winning the backing of 58% of his Conservative Party’s MPs. Conservative rebels required a majority to unseat the prime minister.
The betting markets had predicted Johnson’s survival, but his grip on power is shaky. For a populist leader, he’s never been less popular. The public’s faith has been shattered by revelations of boozy parties held at 10 Downing Street, the PM’s London residence, during the coronavirus lockdown, and by subsequent lies to cover them up.
This was at a time when many of those who lost loved ones during the pandemic were not permitted to attend their funerals because of strict social distancing rules. It’s fair to say Johnson’s antics have hit a raw nerve with the electorate.
Recent polling suggests that 60% of the public believe that Johnson should resign. Some 74% told YouGov they believe he knowingly lied about the parties, and 74% believe that he misled the House of Commons over the affair.
Significantly, these views are held by half or more of voters who backed Johnson in December 2019, iNews reports.
Will Boris Johnson Resign?
Nevertheless, the 57-year-old’s odds of remaining in power in the short term have lengthened. Despite 42% of his party wanting him out, he has survived the revolt, and now cannot face a vote of no confidence for another 12 months under UK parliamentary law.
Paddy Power currently has him at 15/8 to still be Conservative Party leader at the next General Election, which must be called no later than January 2025.
In the meantime, Johnson is unlikely to fall on his sword. In 1989, Margaret Thatcher chose to resign after receiving a very similar split of the vote in a leadership contest.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, threw in the towel after receiving 63% of her party’s backing during a vote of no confidence in November 2019.
But bowing out just isn’t Johnson’s style. He emerged in front of media on Monday night to describe the vote as “decisive” and “convincing.” It was “an opportunity to put behind us all the stuff that the media goes on about,” he suggested.
Not everyone was so upbeat.
While Boris Johnson has clung on today, make no mistake, his reputation is in tatters and his authority is now totally shot,” Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said in a statement.
The Conservative Party is currently trailing in the polls with an average 32% of the vote, seven points behind Labour, the main opposition party.
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