Doubts hang over Britain’s Johnson although his bid to oust him fails | Health, Medicine and Fitness

By JILL LAWLESS – Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rushed to mend his tattered authority on Tuesday after surviving a no-confidence vote that exposed deep divisions within his Conservative party and raised serious doubts as to the length of his term.

Under party rules, Johnson is now free from another challenge for a year. But previous prime ministers who faced no-confidence votes have been permanently damaged – and a growing number of Tory lawmakers fear that Johnson, famous for people-pleasing, is now tarnished by the “partygate” ethics scandal and either become a handicap for voters.

Johnson nevertheless promised to “get to work” and focus on “what matters to the British people” – defined by him as the economy, healthcare and crime – after Tory lawmakers voted by 211 votes against 148 to support him as leader.

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“We are now in a position to draw a line under the issues our adversaries want to talk about” and “move the country forward,” Johnson told his cabinet colleagues.

But the scale of the rebellion has raised serious questions about his ability to govern at a time of growing economic and social tension. Former Tory leader William Hague called on Johnson to step down, saying “the damage to his position as Prime Minister is severe”.

“Words have been spoken that cannot be retracted, reports issued that cannot be erased, and votes cast that show a higher level of rejection than any Conservative leader has ever endured and survived,” wrote Hague in a Times of London article whose words were splashed across the British media.

“It’s not over,” echoed Philip Dunne, a Conservative lawmaker who voted against Johnson in Monday’s no-confidence ballot.

The vote was triggered because at least 54 Tory lawmakers, 15% of the party’s parliamentary caucus, called for a challenge to Johnson.

Johnson needed the support of 180 of 359 Conservative lawmakers to stay in office. He got more than that – but although he described the victory as “convincing”, the rebellion was bigger than some of his supporters had predicted.

The margin was narrower than what her predecessor, Theresa May, secured in a vote of no confidence in 2018. She was forced to resign six months later.

“It will be a blow. And I think they’re going to be worried that this story isn’t over yet,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “The reality is that these contests are used to expose how weak the authority of a Prime Minister is. minister is.

The rebellion was also a sign of deep conservative divisions, less than three years after Johnson led the party to its biggest election victory in decades. Most British newspapers had little doubt that this was bad news for a leader who has always shown an uncommon ability to ignore scandals.

The Tory-backing Daily Telegraph reported ‘Hollow victory tears Tories apart’, while The Times called Johnson a ‘wounded winner’ and the left-leaning Daily Mirror said bluntly: ‘The party is over , Boris”.

But some loyal supporters tried to outrun Tuesday’s vote. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the party should “draw a line in the sand after this vote”.

“It was clearly and decisively won,” he said.

The vote followed months of growing discontent over the Prime Minister’s ethics and judgement, centered on revelations of parties breaking the law in the Prime Minister’s office when Britain was on lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.

In a report last month into the ‘partygate’ scandal, civil service investigator Sue Gray described booze stunts staged by Downing Street staff in 2020 and 2021, when pandemic restrictions prevented British residents to socialize or even visit dying relatives. Gray said Johnson and senior officials must take responsibility for the “failures of leadership and judgment” that have created a culture of rule-breaking in government.

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 went on to defend his attendance at parties as necessary for staff morale and branded some of the criticism ‘partygate’ of unjust.

Johnson still faces a parliamentary ethics inquiry into ‘turnout’, and his government is also under intense pressure to dull the pain of skyrocketing energy and food bills, while dealing with the fallout from the exit from the Great Britain of the European Union.

Polls give the centre-left opposition Labor Party a national lead, and Johnson will face more pressure if the Tories lose a special election later this month for two parliamentary constituencies, called when lawmakers incumbent conservatives have been driven out by sex scandals.

Bale said Johnson would likely retaliate with tax cuts and other policies designed to appeal to his party’s right-wing base.

“The problem with that is that it offers, if you will, political solutions to a personality problem,” he said. “It seems from opinion polls that the public has turned against Boris Johnson in particular, and that’s partly what’s driving the conservative Party on.

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