London, Jun 6 (EFE).- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson received the support of a narrow majority of Conservative Party lawmakers in a no-confidence vote on Monday.
The result means he will retain his position as head of the party and government, for now.
But a surprisingly large number of Tory members of Parliament – 148 out of 359, or around 41 percent – voted to remove Johnson, a reflection of significant concern among Conservatives that his involvement in the so-called “partygate” scandal will severely hurt their chances in the next election, currently scheduled for May 2024.
The rebellion is even bigger than that suffered four years ago by his predecessor, Theresa May, who survived a no-confidence vote in 2018 after Tory MPs had rebelled against her Brexit strategy.
She survived with 63 percent support but was still forced to step down a few months later.
Johnson described the result as “decisive” and “convincing” and his closest allies played down the extent of the revolt.
“That was a ballot. The prime minister won handsomely. I think the important thing to remember is that we only are able to deliver if we are united. I hope we can draw a line under this now and focus on delivery,” Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told reporters.
“We’ve got two years to demonstrate to the nation that we can deliver on the economy. We’ve got to deal with the global battle against inflation. We’ve got to deal with the battle over the (National Health Service), safer streets and, of course, war in Europe.”
“Pleased that colleagues have backed the Prime Minister. I support him 100 percent. Now’s the time to get on with the job,” the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, one of the Conservative politicians named as a possible replacement for Johnson, wrote on Twitter.
But one of Johnson’s staunchest Conservative critics, Tory MP Roger Gale, said he will continue to oppose Johnson despite his victory in the no-confidence vote.
He called the ballot “severely damaging” and urged him to “go back to Downing Street tonight and consider very carefully where he goes from here.”
Gale added that he would be very surprised if Johnson is still in office in the fall.
Just two hours before the vote, Johnson met privately with Tory lawmakers and reminded them that just two and a half years ago, under his watch, the Conservative Party achieved its biggest landslide victory in several decades.
The prime minister, however, has since lost support across all factions of the Conservative Party, ranging from the most fervent Brexit supporters to the more moderate wing of the party.
Johnson’s popularity among his fellow Conservatives – and in the eyes of the public – has deteriorated due to a lockdown party scandal that first erupted late last November.
A recent investigation into what the UK media has come to term ‘partygate’ found a culture of illegal, and sometimes drunken, social gatherings had taken root at Downing Street when the rest of the country was forced to obey strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Johnson was fined for his attendance at one of those gatherings. EFE