Jun 6, 2022 - World

Boris Johnson survives no-confidence vote over lockdown parties

Boris Johnson at Downing Street. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson clung on to his job Monday after surviving a no-confidence vote sparked by members of his own party. 148 Conservative MPs voted to remove him, short of the 180 required for a majority.

Why it matters: Johnson was found to have broken the law by attending several social gatherings during the U.K.'s strict COVID-19 lockdown. He'll be further weakened by the revelation that so many within his own party want him gone. Still, party rules dictate that he cannot face another confidence vote for a year.

Yes, but: Previous Tory prime ministers, most recently Theresa May in 2018, have failed to keep their jobs for long after facing a confidence vote.

  • Margaret Thatcher also resigned in 1990 not long after surviving a leadership challenge by a similar margin.
  • Johnson's standing with the public has also fallen sharply. His approval rating is down to 29% and he was booed on Friday while attending celebrations for the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.

Under party rules, 15% of Conservative MPs must express disapproval of the party leader to spark a vote — a threshold that was reached on Monday — and a majority must vote to remove them.

What to watch: In the immediate aftermath of the vote, a number of politicians and pundits began to predict Johnson's political demise, though he has shown a remarkable resilience to scandal in the past.

  • The very attributes that won Johnson a landslide victory in 2019 have now become his weaknesses, James Johnson, who worked as May's chief pollster in Downing Street, tells Axios.
  • "The strongman that voters liked, they now view as weak. The rare politician that they thought they could laugh along with is now seen to be laughing at them. It’s very difficult to see how Boris Johnson restores the trust of the people and his reputation regardless of the outcome of this confidence vote this evening," says Johnson, co-founder of polling firm JL Partners.
Go deeper