Britain’s Johnson struggles to regain authority after rebellion

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was meeting with his cabinet and trying to mend his tattered authority on Tuesday after surviving a no-confidence vote that left him a severely weakened leader.

Johnson promised to ‘get to work’ and focus on ‘what matters to the British people’ – defined as the economy, healthcare and crime – after Conservative Party lawmakers voted 211 votes against 148 to support him as leader.

Johnson needed the support of 180 of 359 Conservative lawmakers in Monday’s secret ballot 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. It was also a narrower margin than Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, in a vote of no confidence in 2018. She was forced to resign six months later.

Under party rules, Johnson is now free from another challenge for a year. But previous prime ministers who faced votes of no confidence, including May and Margaret Thatcher, were permanently damaged.

The rebellion was 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 Johnson. The Tory-backing Daily Telegraph said: ‘A hollow victory tears the Tories apart’, while the left-leaning Daily Mirror said bluntly: ‘The party is over, Boris’.

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.

Former Tory leader William Hague said “although Johnson survived the night, the damage to his post as Prime Minister is severe” and that he should step down.

“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 The Times of London.

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Edward L. Robinett