Are these the clanging chimes of doom for Boris Johnson?
After a catalogue of gaffes over the past couple of years, which have led to a dramatic fall in public perception that saw him booed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the Prime Minister’s own political party is turning against him.
A handful of Tories have issued motions of no confidence in Boris’ leadership, and the requisite number of letters – that’s 54 – have been filed with the Chair of 1922 Committee, and that means the PM will now face a dreaded vote on his stewardship.
By the time you are reading this, the results may have been published – the general consensus is that Boris will survive the vote given that he has seemingly retained the support of a majority of his colleagues.
However, that’s not to say it will boost his grip on power in the long run – the history books show us that simply going to a no confidence vote can be the beginning of the end for a prime minister….
What is a Vote of No Confidence?
Any serving MP in the ruling political party can file a letter of no confidence in their prime minister at any time – however, the vote of no confidence process will only be actioned when the threshold (54 letters) has been met.
It should be noted that the 54 votes represent around 15% of the Conservative Party – hardly overwhelming, and while other Tories may join the dissenting minority it’s still likely that Boris will slither his way to another victory in a ballot….he will need 50% plus one vote (around 180 in total) to be saved.
If he didn’t secure enough votes, he would be asked to resign from his position – sparking an immediate leadership contest. Assuming he does win, Johnson will be safe from similar action for a 12-month period.
But if he wins with a small majority, it might be enough to convince Boris that his, ahem, party is over.
Key colleagues have been rallying round him, with Liz Truss – who might be a potential contender to replace Boris as PM if he is ousted – tweeting her support:
The Prime Minister has my 100% backing in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him.
He has delivered on covid recovery and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He has apologised for mistakes made.
We must now focus on economic growth.
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) June 6, 2022
But there are dissenting voices, including that of former cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt. He believes that the Conservatives could lose the next general election if Boris is retained – arguing that ‘we [the Tories] are not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.’
“And because we are no longer trusted by the electorate, who know this too, we are set to lose the next general election,” Hunt said.
May Day for Theresa
The most recent vote of no confidence in a prime minister took place back in December 2018, where Theresa May survived courtesy of a 200-117 margin in her favour.
But the fact that more than 33% of Tories were against her confirmed that May was swimming against the tide, and she would last just five more months before handing in her resignation.
So there’s survival of a no confidence vote and then there’s an assumed defeat even when the numbers are on your side – many Conservatives will be aware that Boris’ popularity has never been lower with the electorate….can even Mr Teflon himself overcome the odds and battle on as prime minister?
The bookies make Johnson the favourite to survive the vote – he is priced at around 1/10 to still be Prime Minister come July, however it is now odds-on that he won’t be the PM at the time of the next general election, which will likely take place in 2024.