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Boris Johnson survives confidence vote

00:24, Tuesday, 07 June, 2022
Boris Johnson survives confidence vote

Boris Johnson has survived a vote of confidence by 211 to 148 votes in one of the most pivotal moments of the British prime minister’s career, after a day of high drama in Westminster.

Johnson’s victory was announced at 9pm by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, in a committee room in the House of Commons.

In percentage terms — 59 per cent to 41 per cent — the result of the secret ballot of 359 Tory MPs was worse than John Major in 1995 and Theresa May in 2018.

The result allows Johnson to continue as prime minister at an acutely difficult time for the ruling Conservative party, given the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine. Earlier today he urged colleagues to move on from “partygate” — the scandal that triggered the challenge — and focus on bread and butter issues.

Under current rules the leader cannot face another challenge for another 12 months, although those rules could in theory be changed.

But the number of rebels is likely to pose questions about whether Johnson can survive through to the next general election.

In 2018 Theresa May won a vote of no confidence by a margin of 200 to 117 or 63:37 per cent. But Jacob Rees-Mogg, then a rebel backbencher — and now a cabinet minister — called it a “terrible result” and urged her to resign, which she did six months later.

Tonight’s contest was triggered on Monday morning after at least 54 MPs — equivalent to 15 per cent of the party — signed letters calling for a confidence vote in their leader. Many had acted in response to the Sue Gray report into “partygate” which criticised a partying culture in Downing Street when most of the country was under Covid-19 lockdowns.

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