(London) Boris Johnson’s political future is being played out in Westminster: the British Prime Minister submits on Monday to a vote of confidence from his majority, which is less and less patient after months of the “partygate” scandal.
Posted at 6:18 a.m.
Updated at 1:31 p.m.
The festive parenthesis of the platinum jubilee celebrating the 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II has barely closed, its 14e Prime Minister finds himself in an ejection seat due to the Downing Street holiday affair during the confinements, revived at the end of May by a devastating report detailing the breaches of the rules enacted in the face of COVID-19.
Events came to a head on Monday morning when the chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee, Graham Brady, announced that the fateful threshold of 54 letters from MPs, or 15% of the parliamentary group, demanding Mr Johnson’s departure had been reached. .
A long line of elected officials formed outside the hall of the Palace of Westminster where the vote opened, behind closed doors and by secret ballot, at 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. EDT). It is scheduled to last until 8 p.m. (3 p.m. EDT) behind closed doors, with the result expected around 9 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT).
To stay in office, Boris Johnson must obtain the confidence of the majority of the 359 Conservative MPs, or 180 votes.
If he is defeated, an internal election will be called to appoint a new party leader, who will become head of government, in a delicate context of war in Ukraine and inflation at its highest for 40 years.
If he wins, he cannot be targeted by another motion of no confidence for a year, but his authority risks being considerably weakened.
Pleading his cause in front of his troops, Boris Johnson said he was “happy” that the vote was taking place: “If you give me your support tonight, we have a chance to stop talking about ourselves and start talk exclusively about what we are doing for the people of this country, ”he said, according to a Conservative Party official.
He dangled tax cuts and recalled having won in 2019 “the strongest electoral victory for the Conservatives in 40 years”.
More than 100 elected officials gave him their support during the day and his most loyal ministers spent the day defending him on television. But Scotland’s Tory leader Douglas Ross announced he would vote against him, citing public “anger” over COVID-19 rule breaches. He thus follows former minister Jeremy Hunt, considered a possible successor.
According to a poll released Monday by Opinium, 59% of Britons want the Tories to oust their leader – but only 34% of majority voters.
Booed during the jubilee
Triumphing at the polls in 2019 on the promise of breaking the UK’s Brexit stalemate, the 57-year-old has long maintained a stainless popularity. Despite the accumulation of scandals, he maintained himself by highlighting his leading role in the Western response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He has also been helped by the lack of a clear successor in the ranks of the Conservatives, who have been in power for 12 years in the UK, especially since the star of Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, long a darling of the party, abruptly tarnished due to his wealth and his wife’s tax arrangements in times of rising cost of living.
But his falling popularity has already inflicted heavy setbacks on the Tories in local elections in early May. The majority increasingly doubts the ability of “BoJo”, booed by the crowd during the celebrations of the Queen’s jubilee, to win the legislative elections of 2024.
Since the publication of the administrative report on the “partygate” at the end of May, calls for his resignation have been launched in dribs and drabs.
Another setback on Monday: MP John Penrose, in charge of the fight against corruption with Boris Johnson, resigned and invited the Prime Minister to do the same, believing that he had broken the ministerial code.
If he wins Monday night’s vote, the problems will not be over for Boris Johnson.
At the end of 2018, Theresa May had survived a motion of no confidence before resigning a few months later, too weak.
What is the party gate ?
On November 30, 2021, the tabloid The Daily Mirror reveals that several members of the British government partied notably at 10 Downing Street in 2020 and 2021, as authorities imposed significant restrictions on taxpayers. The Telegraph also mentioned a party that ended in the early morning, when Queen Elizabeth II attended the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, alone. Following the celebrations, civil servant Sue Gray released a report in which the prime minister was harshly blamed for carelessness at his official residence.
Another investigation into the “partygate” is also planned, this one parliamentary. If the latter concludes that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons by claiming not to have broken the rules, he is supposed to resign.