Boris Johnson has managed to cling on to power, but the huge Tory vote against him shows his days are numbered, writes Terina Hine
The charlatan limps on, fatally wounded. With 148 backbenchers voting against him we will have the pleasure of witnessing a slow and painful death.
The public knows the Prime Minister is a disgrace, not fit for office, but it seems that 58% (211) of his MPs simply don’t care. Like their leader they care only for themselves. And they believe the arrogant, incompetent leader they know is better than one they don’t. That there is no suitable alternative says a lot about the make up of the Conservative parliamentary party - it’s not as if the bar has been set high.
But what this vote means is that Boris Johnson is a dead man walking. He did worse than Theresa May when she was subjected to a confidence vote. She resigned a mere six months later. The numbers are equivalent to those that voted against Thatcher. She lasted for only a few days.
Yet Johnson will not resign, any more than today’s victory will draw a line under his troubles.
And the longer this goes on the more damaging it becomes for the Tories. Graham Brady has said publicly the Party rules may be changed to allow a second leadership challenge before the year is up. He sees the alternative is a party dragged even further into the gutter. The two by-elections later this month may provide the excuse needed.
In many ways Johnson’s pyrrhic victory is the worst outcome for the Tory Party, and quite possibly for Johnson. The brand is severely damaged and what little remained of Johnson’s authority has now been shot. The party has no-one to lead and no plan to govern. A significant proportion of the parliamentary party clearly wants rid of their leader and those numbers will only grow. The public have had enough, and Tory MPs, slow on the uptake, are beginning to realise their once electoral asset is now a liability.
A civil war within the party will now commence. Boris Johnson will be very lucky if he makes it to a general election. In the meantime he will continue to suggest it’s time to move on, but even fewer will be prepared to do so.
And it’s clear the leopard won’t change his spots. Johnson’s arrogance reached new levels at this evening’s pre-vote meeting with his MPs. Asked about his conduct described in the Sue Gray report, he told MPs, "I'd do it again." The man has no shame. He doesn’t care. He isn’t sorry. They supported him anyway.
MPs elected Boris Johnson in the full knowledge of who he is. So lacking in moral fibre, they failed to act for six months on partygate - knowing he had lied to the public, to the Commons, let others take the blame. They, like all of us, knew he had failed to obey his own laws. But then these are the same MPs that approved the government’s disastrous handling of Covid, who refuse to help with the cost of living crisis. The same MPs who denied free school meals during holidays for the poorest children and who removed the Universal Credit uplift. This vote was called because they feared for their jobs, and enough MPs are on the government payroll for Johnson to have scraped through.
We are in a time of major economic and political turmoil and the system is collapsing. The left must take advantage of a seriously wounded Tory party and its weak, supportive opposition. The boos at the Jubilee were loud, let’s make them louder still.
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