Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote on the future of his party leadership. 211 party members in the House of Commons supported him, 148 thought Johnson should clear the field. That means that 59 percent of his group mates are behind him. The vote was requested by a group of members within the Conservative Party, following party gate.
The outcome means that Johnson may remain on as party leader of the Conservatives, and as a result, as Prime Minister. Under the current rules, this also means that a confidence vote should not be held again in the next 12 months.
Johnson himself spoke of a “convincing result”. He said he hoped that this will allow the party to leave behind the fuss around partygate – according to Johnson spurred by the media – behind it.
Labour leader Keir Starmer just saw a “divided” Conservative Party that keeps Johnson afloat with no plan to deal with the problems.
Despite a lot of opposition, Johnson reacted positively to the result:
The vote was a rather lengthy procedure. For two hours, Conservative MPs were able to walk into parliament for it. The vote was also anonymous – only if party members come out with this themselves, it becomes clear how they voted.
Some Conservatives announced this publicly tonight, including former Minister Jeremy Hunt, who once took a shot at the Tories candidacy himself. He said on Twitter that he had voted “for change”.
Immediately after the result was announced, there was loud cheering in the room with Conservative MPs:
In recent months, the British media published about parties with Prime Minister Johnson, which were held while strict coronavirus rules were in place in England. Johnson tried to downplay the coverage to no avail. Not only did more parties come to light, more details also came out. They ranged from the swing of Johnsons son destroyed by a party goer to images of empty bottles of booze in a Downing Street office. The affair ultimately led to a scathing report and fines.
Earlier today, the chairman of the powerful 1922 Conservative Committee announced that enough letters had been collected to initiate a vote on Johnson. In total, 54 requests from group members were required for this (which amounted to 15 percent). To stay on, Johnson needed the majority of Conservative MPs tonight. That amounted to 180 votes: half plus one extra vote.
If Johnson had been voted out, it would not have automatically led to new elections. A leadership election was held within the party, as it happened at the time when former Prime Minister Theresa May cleared the field. Johnson then succeeded her.
By the way, the fact that Johnson survived the vote does not mean that the rest will return to the party. The Prime Minister still received 148 votes against from fellow party members who no longer have confidence in his leadership. His predecessor May also faced a leadership vote at one time. At the time, she had a 63 percent majority behind her.