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Boris Johnson remains in office after a vote of no confidence


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of no confidence, gaining enough support in his party to stay in power despite a rebellion that will likely weaken him as a leader and cast a shadow over his future.

Known for his ability to ignore scandals, the charismatic leader struggled to turn the page on revelations that he and his staff repeatedly hosted boozy parties that flouted the COVID-19 restrictions they imposed on others. Support among his fellow Tory lawmakers has waned as some see the leader, known for his ability to connect with voters, increasingly as a liability rather than an asset in the election.

Johnson won the support of 211 of 359 Tory lawmakers, more than the simple majority needed to stay in office but still a significant rebellion of 148 MPs. With no clear favorite to succeed him, most political observers had predicted that he would overcome the challenge.

But the rebellion represents a watershed moment for him – and a sign of deep conservative divisions, less than three years after Johnson led the party to its biggest election victory in decades.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative party on Monday that could oust him from power, as discontent with his regime finally threatens to topple a politician who has often looked invincible despite many scandals.

The charismatic leader renowned for his ability to connect with voters has recently struggled to turn the page on revelations that he and his staff repeatedly hosted boozy parties that flouted the COVID-19 restrictions they imposed. to others.

Yet, with no clear favorite to succeed Johnson, most political observers believe he will overcome the challenge and remain prime minister. But having enough lawmakers demanding a vote represents a watershed moment for him — and a narrow victory would make him a hobbled leader whose days are likely numbered. It’s also a sign of deep conservative divisions, less than three years after Johnson led the party to its biggest election victory in decades.

Since then, Johnson has led Britain out of the European Union and through a pandemic, both of which have rocked the UK socially and economically. The vote comes as Johnson’s government is under intense pressure to dull the pain of soaring energy and food bills

Conservative Party official Graham Brady announced on Monday that he had received letters calling for a no-confidence vote from at least 54 Tory lawmakers, enough to trigger the measure under party rules. Hours later, party lawmakers lined up by the dozens in a corridor of parliament to vote in a paneled room, handing their phones to their entrance to ensure secrecy. The result was expected later Monday evening.

To stay in office, Johnson must win the support of a simple majority of the 359 Conservative lawmakers. If he doesn’t, the party will choose a new leader, who will also become prime minister.

Johnson’s office in Downing Street said the prime minister hailed the vote as “a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on”.

Johnson addressed dozens of Tory lawmakers in a Commons hall on Monday as he tried to shore up support, vowing: “I will lead you to victory again.”

Discontent that has been building for months erupted after a 10-day break in Parliament which included a long weekend of celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. For many, the four-day vacation was a chance to relax – but there was no respite for Johnson, who was booed by onlookers as he arrived for a service in honor of the queen at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday.

Brady said some lawmakers who had submitted letters of censure had asked that they be withheld until the end of the Jubilee weekend – but even so the threshold was still met on Sunday.

Johnson’s allies insist he will remain in office if he wins even a single vote. But previous prime ministers who survived votes of no confidence emerged severely weakened. Theresa May, for example, won one in 2018 but never regained her authority and resigned within months, sparking a leadership race won by Johnson.

His selection in July 2019 capped a rollercoaster trip to the top. He had held important posts, including Mayor of London and British Foreign Secretary, but had also spent periods on the fringes of politics after self-inflicted gaffes. He continued to bounce back, showing an uncommon ability to shrug off scandal and connect with voters that for many conservatives overshadowed doubts about his ethics or judgment.

But concerns came to a head after an investigator’s report late last month exposed a culture of non-compliance within the Prime Minister’s Office in a scandal known as ‘partygate’.

Civil Service investigator Sue Gray described booze parties hosted by Downing Street staff in 2020 and 2021, when pandemic restrictions prevented UK residents from socializing or even visiting relatives dying.

Gray said the “executive team” must take responsibility for “failures in leadership and judgment.”

Johnson was also fined 50 pounds ($63) by police for attending a party, making him the first prime minister sanctioned for breaking the law while in office.

The Prime Minister said he was “humbled” and took “full responsibility” – but insisted he would not step down. He urged the British to “move on” and focus on fixing the struggling economy and helping Ukraine defend against a Russian invasion.

But a growing number of Tories believe Johnson is now a liability that will doom them to defeat in the next election, due to be held by 2024.

“The decision today is change or lose,” said Jeremy Hunt, who ran against Johnson for the Conservative leadership in 2019 but has largely refrained from criticizing him since. “I will vote for change.

Lawmaker Jesse Norman, a longtime Johnson supporter, said the prime minister had “presided over a culture of occasional law-breaking” and left the government “adrift and distracted”.

Another Tory lawmaker, John Penrose, resigned as the prime minister’s “anti-corruption champion” on Monday, saying Johnson breached the government’s code of conduct with behavior revealed by partygate.

But senior ministers have offered messages of support for Johnson – including some who are likely to run in the Tory leadership race that would be triggered if he is ousted.

“The Prime Minister has my 100% support in today’s vote and I urge my colleagues to support him,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, one of the favorites to succeed Johnson, wrote. in a tweet.

If he wins Monday’s vote, Johnson will likely face more pressure. The war in Ukraine, a post-Brexit row with the EU and runaway inflation are all weighing on the government, and the Tories could lose a special election later this month for two parliamentary constituencies, called when incumbent Tory lawmakers were chased away by sex scandals. .

Johnson tried to focus on those broader issues, noting that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday. He was a strong supporter of the Ukrainian cause, a position shared by his eventual successors.

Cabinet Secretary Steve Barclay, an ally of Johnson, said overthrowing the leader now would be “indefensible”.

“The problems we face are not easy to solve,” but the Tories have the right plan to solve them, he wrote on the conservative Home website.

“To halt this progress now would be inexcusable for many of those who first lent us their vote in the last general election and want to see our Prime Minister deliver the promised changes for their communities.”

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