Boris Johnson seen for first time since confidence vote triggered
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The scale of the betrayal of a large proportion of Conservatives on Mr Johnson in a confidence vote saw 148 of his MPs saying they wanted him out of Downing Street has been laid bare.
The map shows MPs stated intentions against what they actually did in the secret ballot held by the 1922 Committee.
According to Election Maps UK, only 58 of the 148 MPs who voted to get rid of Mr Johnson as Prime Minister stated they would do so in advance.**
This means the number of rebels in Monday night’s vote — 41 percent of Tory MPs — was much higher than predicted.
But the volume of loyal Conservatives was larger than expected, too. While 162 publicly stated they were ready to give Mr Johnson their support, 211 ended up backing him. Those extra 49 votes were essential for the Prime Minister to keep his job.
Now, while Mr Johnson and some of his allies are eager to leave Partygate behind, others do simply not want to accept a verdict that marks the worst for a sitting prime minister by their own party in recent times.
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Party rules give Mr Johnson a reprieve from facing another confidence vote for 12 months. Yet, the row is far from over.
Some MPs are publicly calling on him to resign over the rule-breaking gatherings that took place during lockdown in and around Westminster.
Tobias Ellwood, a longstanding critic of the Prime Minister, said the “honourable way forward” would be for Mr Johnson to “step back” and acknowledge that uniting the Conservative party to win the next general election is “too big” a task.
He added, though: “We have to deal with the reality that those days of an honourable resignation are not there.”
In Scotland, where four out of six Tory MPs voted against Mr Johnson, Stephen Kerr said: “I don’t know how long the prime minister can continue.”
The party’s chief whip at Holyrood told the BBC: “Clearly it’s not a strong result for the Prime Minister and politically, undoubtedly, he is damaged.
“And he will now need to take time to reflect on the message that has I think very clearly been sent from this result.”
Scottish secretary Alister Jack, in contrast, said it was time to move on from debates about Mr Johnson’s leadership.
There was no hint of hesitance before the vote, as he claimed: “He (Mr Johnson) is showing tremendous leadership as we face major challenges at home and abroad.”
On similar lines, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis, who ahead of the ballot gave the Prime Minister his “full backing”, said it is now time for Tory MPs to unite behind Mr Johnson and focus on “making people’s lives better”.
He told the AP news agency:” Quite simply, look, I’m a democrat, we have had a democratic vote, we had one in 2016, we have to finish delivering the work in Northern Ireland from my job, which comes from Brexit, which we voted for.
“(In) 2019, the general public overwhelmingly gave Boris Johnson and our party the support, beyond anything we have seen since the height of Margaret Thatcher.
“He has won the vote tonight, we have got to come back together now, focus on the job and be focused on making the people’s lives better tomorrow and in the future.”
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Backbencher Philip Davies, despite voting against Mr Johnson, vowed to fully accept Monday’s result.
He said: “The Prime Minister won fair and square.
“My view is that you’ve got to accept the result. If you lose a vote, you accept it.
“That’s the whole point of democracy.”
For the Prime Minister’s closest allies, that is just about the right mindset.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We had a vote yesterday.
“It is time to draw a line, move forward and focus on what people want us to be talking about – housing, childcare and delivering on lower taxes.”
Labour, naturally, doesn’t see it the same way.
Leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The Conservative party now believes that breaking the law is no impediment to making the law.
“The Conservative party now believes that the British public have no right to expect honest politicians.”
He added: “It is grotesque that the very next day the Conservative party has chosen to throw that sense of duty and those values on the bonfire.”
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