VIDEO: Weakened UK leader Boris Johnson survives no-confidence vote
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote on Monday, securing enough support from his Conservative Party to remain in office despite a substantial rebellion that leaves him a weakened leader with an uncertain future.
Known for his ability to shrug off scandals, the charismatic leader has struggled to turn the page on revelations that he and his staff repeatedly held boozy parties that flouted the COVID-19 restrictions they imposed on others. Support among his fellow Conservative lawmakers has weakened as some see a leader renowned for his ability to connect with voters increasingly as a liability rather than an asset in elections.
Johnson won the backing of 211 out of 359 Conservative lawmakers in a secret ballot, more than the simple majority needed to remain in power, but still a significant rebellion of 148 MPs.
Johnson called it a "convincing” win and said the party should now "come together.”
"What it means is that as a government we can move on and focus on stuff that I think really matters to people,” he said.
With no clear front-runner to succeed him, most political observers had predicted Johnson would defeat the challenge. But the rebellion could still be a watershed moment for him - and is a sign of deep Conservative divisions, less than three years after he led the party to its biggest election victory in decades.
Johnson’s winning margin is less than that secured by his predecessor Theresa May in a similar vote in December 2018. She was forced to resign six months later.
Since replacing May as prime minister in 2019, Johnson has led Britain out of the European Union and through a pandemic, both of which have shaken the U.K. socially and economically. The vote comes as Johnson’s government is under intense pressure to ease the pain of skyrocketing energy and food bills.
But the main blow to his leadership has been revelations that he and his staff repeatedly held boozy parties that flouted the COVID-19 restrictions they imposed on others. That caused anger in the country, and unease among many Conservatives.
Discontent that has been building for months erupted after a 10-day parliamentary break that included a long weekend of celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. For many, the four-day holiday was a chance to relax - but there was no respite for Johnson, who was booed by some onlookers as he arrived for a service in the queen’s honor at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday.