By Viviana García
London, Jun 7 (EFE).- British prime minister Boris Johnson may have survived Monday’s no-confidence vote but the motion lodged by his backbench colleagues over the ‘partygate’ scandal exposed a Conservative Party in deep crisis.
The rebellion in his party had been brewing for weeks in the wake of revelations that a culture of illegal and occasionally drunken social gatherings had taken root at Downing Street when the rest of the United Kingdom was in the teeth of strict Covid-19 restrictions.
The secret ballot was triggered when the threshold of 15% of Tory MPs filed a letter to Sir Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 Committee, the Conservative Party parliamentary group.
Johnson, who needed a majority plus one to hold onto his job, got the backing of 59% of Conservative MPs but no fewer than 148 lawmakers voted against the prime minister.
It was therefore a worse result than those obtained by two of his predecessors in their respective no-confidence votes — Theresa May in December 2018 who, dogged by Brexit, would resign six months later and John Major, who in 1995 successfully faced off against eurosceptics in his party only to lose the next general election.
Johnson’s leadership is theoretically safe for at least another year but his authority has been weakened as he, in his own words, gets “on with the job.”
Tory rebels fear Johnson will lead the party to a disastrous result in the 2024 general elections, should he remain in power.
But, as evidenced by Monday’s vote, the prime minister does not have to look much further than his own backbenches to find his critics.
Tobias Ellwood, an MP who voted against Johnson and the chair of the Defence Select Committee in the House of Commons, on Tuesday told Sky News that the 1922 Committee was studying a rule change that could spell a new leadership vote in “six months.”
Monday’s night’s results painted a picture of a Conservative Party mired in division and internal power struggles.
Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent, told Efe that Johnson had emerged from the confidence vote “weakened” and “vulnerable.”
He added that while Johnson had polarized his party and country, his ability to survive should not be underestimated.
Watching closely from the other side of the political spectrum, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that by keeping Johnson in power, the Tories had “ignored the British public.”EFE