Embattled UK PM Johnson to face confidence vote from within his own party

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s governing Conservatives will hold a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday that could oust him as Britain’s leader.

Party official Graham Brady says he has received enough letters from lawmakers demanding a vote on Johnson’s leadership to trigger one. That happens if 54 Tory lawmakers — 15% of the party’s group in the House of Commons — write to Brady.

“The threshold of 15% has been passed,” Brady said. He said the vote would take place in person in the House of Commons on Monday evening.

If Johnson loses the vote among the 359 Conservative lawmakers, he will be replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister. If he wins, he can’t face another challenge for a year.

Johnson has been struggling to turn a page on months of ethics scandals, most notably over rule-breaking parties in government buildings during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said the prime minister welcomed the vote. “Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities,” it said.

An anti-Conservative Party protester holds a placard with an image of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson including the words ‘Now Partygate’ backdropped by the Houses of Parliament, in London, Dec. 8, 2021. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Late last month an investigator’s report on what has become known as “partygate” slammed a culture of rule-breaking inside the prime minister’s No. 10 Downing St. office.

Civil service investigator Sue Gray described alcohol-fueled bashes held by Downing Street staff members in 2020 and 2021, when pandemic restrictions prevented UK residents from socializing or even visiting dying relatives.

Gray said the “senior leadership team” must bear responsibility for “failures of leadership and judgment.”

The prime minister said he was “humbled” and took “full responsibility” — but insisted it was now time to “move on” and focus on Britain’s battered economy and the war in Ukraine.

Wife of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Carrie Johnson (L), Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center left) and Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (R) attend the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee celebrations (HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

But a growing number of Conservatives feel that Johnson, the charismatic leader who won them a huge parliamentary majority in 2019, is now a liability.

If Johnson is ousted it would spark a Conservative leadership contest, in which several prominent government ministers are likely to run.

Conservative lawmaker Roger Gale, a Johnson critic, said “we have some very good alternatives to the prime minister so we’re not short of choice. Any single one of those people in my view would make a better prime minister than the one that we’ve got at the moment,” he told the BBC.

Discontent seems to have come to a head over a parliamentary break that coincided with celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. For many, the four-day long weekend was a chance to relax — but there was no respite for Johnson, who was booed by some onlookers as he arrived for a service in the queen’s honor at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday.

Cabinet minister Steve Barclay, a Johnson ally, said toppling the leader now would be “indefensible.”

“The problems we face aren’t easy to solve,” he wrote on the Conservative Home website. “Democracies around the world are all currently facing similar challenges. But under Boris Johnson’s leadership, our plan for jobs shows how we are navigating through these global challenges.”

“To disrupt that progress now would be inexcusable to many who lent their vote to us for the first time at the last general election,” added Barclay, “and who want to see our prime minister deliver the changes promised for their communities.”


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