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BoJo May Only Last Months After Scraping No-Confidence Vote, UK Prof Says

© AFP 2023 / LEON NEAL(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 5, 2022 shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 5, 2022 shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2022
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson managed to survive the party vote despite a large rebellion: a whopping 146, or 41%, of Conservative MPs voted to remove him, while 211 supported the incumbent.
"Before the vote, it was expected that around 100 Conservative MPs would vote against Johnson, and that although this would be unhelpful to him he would be able to claim that the matter had been settled at least for a year. Few people thought that the number of 'rebels' would be as high as 148," says Mark Garnett, a politics professor at Lancaster University and author of the book ‘The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval’.
Over half of Conservative MPs had to vote against Bojo in order to defeat him in a no-confidence vote. The measure was initiated by the Tory backbench 1922 Committee after Sue Gray's report exposed 16 cases of lockdown violations by cabinet officials. The prime minister took part in several parties himself between 2020 and 2021, at a time when tough COVID rules imposed by his office were still in place.
Johnson had "presided over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street in relation to Covid," Jesse Norman, a former treasury minister, said in a letter quoted by The Guardian.
According to some British observers, BoJo won a pyrrhic victory on Monday, which is likely to convert him into a “lame duck” prime minister. Johnson put on a brave face, however, telling his cabinet on Tuesday that it can now "draw a line" under the partygate scandal and focus on more urgent issues.
"Johnson will probably try to announce policies which win positive newspaper headlines but do not cost much money," explained Garnett. "As usual, he will try to claim that 'Brexit' has been a great success and will be in danger unless he remains in Downing Street."
However, BoJo's biggest problem is that "opposition to his leadership is based partly on disagreements over policy, but a more important factor is his personality - his apparent dishonesty and tolerance for law-breaking," according to the professor.
FILE - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, May 25 2022, following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2022
‘Pyrrhic Victory’: BoJo Will Drag His Party Down With Him After Winning Confidence Vote – Analyst
While policy disagreements will be difficult to resolve since the UK is facing problems which are beyond the government's control, problems with the premier's personality can never be solved, Garnett underscored.

"Johnson and his allies have stuck to the story that the result is a 'handsome victory'," says the academic. "But the vote against Johnson was even higher than opposition to Theresa May in a confidence vote of December 2018. Mrs May survived, but only for six more months. Something similar is likely to happen in Johnson's case, even though he has no intention of stepping down until his position becomes completely hopeless."

Meanwhile, cross-party British lawmakers appear to be disenchanted by the Tory party’s decision. After the Conservatives failed to oust BoJo, the Liberal Democrats announced that they plan to table a no-confidence motion.
For her part, Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner signalled that they would "consider all options" to force the PM to step down. "He has no confidence of his backbenchers, he has no confidence of any other political party and he has lost the will of the British people. So he should do the right thing and resign," Rayner told BBC Breakfast.
Upcoming by-elections in England could also fuel the fire of the prime minister's Tory antagonists if the party loses ground.
"Both [by-elections] are in areas where support for 'Brexit' is strong, but one (in the South of England) is in an area where the Conservatives usually do well," says Garnett. "The other, in the north of England, is in a seat which Labour had held since 1931 until the Conservatives won in 2019. In different ways, these elections provide excellent tests of the party's chances of winning the next general election. Before the confidence vote they looked very likely to lose both seats, and Johnson's 'victory' has if anything increased the chances of Conservative defeats."
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