Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, survived Monday's no-confidence vote. He secured enough support from his Conservative Party for him to stay in office despite a significant rebellion. This leaves him a weak leader with uncertain future.
The charismatic leader is known for his ability not to be embarrassed by scandals. However, he has struggled to change the course after revelations that he and his staff held boozy parties which flouted COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, some view him as a liability to the Conservative legislature rather than as an asset.
Johnson was supported by 211 of 359 Conservative lawmakers via secret ballot. This is more than the simple majority required to stay in power but still represents a rebellion of 148 MPs.
Johnson called it "convincing" and stated that the party should now "come together."
He stated, "It means that as a government, we can move forward and focus on stuff I believe really matters to people."
Most political observers predicted Johnson would win the challenge, even though there was no clear front-runner. The rebellion, however, could be a turning point for Johnson. It is also a sign that deep Conservative divisions exist three years after Johnson led the party to its largest election win in decades.
Johnson's margin of victory is smaller than the one achieved by Theresa May, his predecessor in December 2018. Six months later, she was forced to resign.
Johnson, who took over May's post as Prime Minister in 2019, has led Britain through the European Union exit and a pandemic that have both shaken the U.K. economically and socially. Johnson's government is under immense pressure to reduce the suffering caused by skyrocketing food and energy bills.
His leadership was hampered by revelations that he and members of his staff held illegal parties during lockdowns. This caused anger and unease in the country as well as concern among Conservatives.
After a 10-day parliamentary holiday that included a weekend of celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, discontent that had been growing for months flared. Many saw the holiday as a chance for relaxation. But Johnson was taunted by onlookers when he arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral for a service in Queen Elizabeth II's honour on Friday.
Graham Brady, a Conservative Party official, announced Monday that he received letters calling for no confidence votes from at least 54 Tory legislators. This was enough to trigger the measure according to party rules. Hours later, party members gathered in large numbers in a corridor of Parliament to cast their votes in a room with wood panels. They handed over their phones to keep their secret.
Johnson addressed many Conservative lawmakers in a House of Commons Room before the vote to try to win support. He promised: "I will lead your to victory again."
Johnson's supporters insisted that he would remain in office even if he was defeated by one vote.
Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary, said Johnson had won "handsomely" and asked the party to "draw a straight line under this now."
Liz Truss is the Foreign Secretary, and one of the favourites to succeed Johnson. She tweeted: "Pleased my colleagues have supported the Prime Minister. I support him 100%. Now is the time to move on with your job.
However, the previous prime ministers who had survived no-confidence votes were severely weakened.