(London) After months of scandal, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saved his post on Monday by winning a vote of no confidence from his majority, which however dealt a severe blow to his authority.
Posted at 6:18 a.m.
Updated at 5:13 p.m.
Two and a half years after his triumphant victory at the polls, the increasingly contested 57-year-old leader remains bogged down in the “partygate” affair, the very drunken parties organized in Downing Street during the confinements. And Monday’s vote showed the deep divisions within the Conservative Party.
Of the 359 Conservative MPs who voted, 211 voted in favor of the Prime Minister, against 148 who refused him their confidence, ie 41% of voters: a considerable group of rebels likely to paralyze government action.
Boris Johnson hastened to hail a “convincing result” which allows “to move on”, calling his party to unity and saying he was “certainly not interested in an early election”.
But many commentators have pointed to the prime minister’s precarious position. “A Prime Minister with a sense of honor would look at the numbers, accept the fact that he has lost the support of a significant part of his party and think about his position, but I don’t think he will” , reacted the rebellious MP Roger Gale.
Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said he was “totally unfit for office” and criticized “divided Tories busy keeping Boris Johnson in power without a plan”.
At the end of 2018, Theresa May had survived a motion of no confidence with a wider margin than her successor, before resigning a few months later, too weakened to lead.
A year off?
Boris Johnson has so far totally refused to step down.
After weeks of speculation, events rushed on Monday morning, barely closed the festive parenthesis of the celebrations of the 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II when the organization of the vote was announced, more than 54 deputies asking for the departure of their chief.
In the event of defeat, an internal election would have been called to designate a new leader of the party, who would have become head of government, in a delicate context of war in Ukraine and inflation at its highest for 40 years.
Victorious, Boris Johnson cannot be targeted by another motion of no confidence for a year, under current rules.
Pleading his cause in front of his troops before the vote, he had dangled tax cuts and cuts in the administration, contrasting with the massive public interventions of recent years in favor of the pandemic, or more recently of the cost crisis. of life.
“The time has come to recognize that sometimes the government cannot do everything,” he said.
Booed during the jubilee
Despite the accumulation of scandals and the anger of the public and his majority, Boris Johnson has maintained himself in recent months by highlighting in particular his leading role in the Western response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He has also been aided by the lack of a clear successor in the Conservative ranks, who have been in power for 12 years in the UK, especially since Finance Minister Rishi Sunak’s star, long party darling, abruptly tarnished by his wealth and his wife’s tax arrangements, in times of rising cost of living.
Mr Johnson’s slump in popularity has already inflicted heavy setbacks on the Tories in a local election 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.
Long an asset, his whimsical, often flippant personality now annoys many Britons.
According to a poll published Monday by YouGov, 60% of Britons wanted the Conservatives to oust their leader, but only 32% of majority voters.
The repercussions of “partygate” are not over either. After the police and senior civil servant Sue Gray, another investigation is planned, this one parliamentary. If the latter concludes, a priori in the fall, that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons by claiming not to have broken the rules, he is supposed to resign.
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.