Johnson is due to visit Northern Ireland on Monday for emergency talks.
Daniel Leal | Afp | Getty Images
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a confidence vote Monday night, but discontent with his leadership is expected to continue, with analysts saying his days in office are numbered.
Monday’s vote saw Johnson win the support of most Conservative MPs, but by a much smaller margin than his supporters had hoped.
The vote – launched by his lawmakers amid growing discontent with his leadership – saw 211 Conservative Party members vote for the prime minister, while 148 voted against him.
Johnson needed a simple majority of 180 MPs to win the vote, but the 148 figure was worse than many expected and means more than 40% of his MPs have no faith in the prime minister – despite his efforts to win their support.
Johnson’s weakness is starkly shown when compared to that of former leader Theresa May. She got more support in a similar vote in 2018 – but resigned as prime minister just six months later.
Several MPs will now examine public sentiment towards Johnson to gauge whether he is the right leader to push the party into the next general election, which should take place before January 2025.
In the near term, Conservative Party support will be put to the test in by-elections in West Yorkshire and Devon later this month.
Current party rules state that Johnson – having survived the confidence vote – cannot face another for 12 months, but analysts say the rebellion against Johnson could grow so large that those rules are changed.
“[The vote] It was much closer than Boris Johnson’s allies expected, or actually hoped for,” Tim Bell, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, told CNBC on Monday.
“We assume to some extent that the Conservatives will lose both by-elections, but we should not underestimate their impact. They will worry a lot of small-majority MPs,” he said. “I think the main metric for a lot of MPs is the opinion polls, and they will look at the personal ratings of Boris Johnson … and the gap between them and Labour.”
Pell said that if that gap widened with the main opposition party, the Conservative rebels could “come back for more” and seek to challenge Johnson’s leadership once again.
While Johnson has shown no signs of being ready to quit – after a vote in which he called for unity and vowed to “strife” – analysts say his leadership appears weak.
His days are “numbered,” according to Callum Pickering, chief economist at Berenberg Bank.
“Based on current Tory rules, Johnson cannot be challenged for another 12 months,” Pickering said in a note last night. “However, this does not mean that he will return to business as usual for his government.”
“While Johnson is still alive today, it is difficult to see how he can regain the former support of his deputies. Unless Johnson makes a significant improvement in the polls in the coming months, Johnson will likely face renewed challenges to his leadership.”
“The risk of the economy deteriorating over the summer, as well as poor results in the upcoming by-election … may shift the pendulum against Johnson so far,” he added.
Westminster opposition parties have long called for Boris Johnson to step down, with the “Party Gateway” scandal – and whether Johnson deliberately misled Parliament (which he denies) about the disaster – prominent members of the Labor Party, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists. (SNP) to express disbelief that Johnson continued to refuse to resign.
Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP’s parliamentary group in the House of Commons and one of Johnson’s biggest critics, described the prime minister as a “dead man walking” and said “anyone else would have gone by now”.
He told CNBC’s Steve, “It’s not over, and I suspect the prime minister is going to go at some point. I don’t think he’s going to run in the next election. We have a really lame prime minister.” Sedgwick Tuesday.
Discontent with Johnson’s leadership escalated after that a report He was released last month, harshly criticizing the prime minister and other officials after a number of COVID-19 Lockdown-breaking parties at Johnson’s office and residence in Downing Street.
However, loyalists to the prime minister praise him for “achieving Brexit” and for overseeing the government’s response to the Covid pandemic, particularly the rapid procurement and deployment of a vaccine.
Johnson now faces the task of appeasing rebellious MPs, a challenge he will likely address through shifts in fiscal policy and staffing, according to JPMorgan economist Alan Monks.
Monks noted late Monday that “while he vowed to ‘crush’ and is likely to stay in place for the near term, the vote casts doubt on his tenure as leader.”
“While we suspect there will be changes to the current rules of the party which state that Johnson cannot receive another leadership challenge for twelve months, he could still face another formal challenge immediately after that. In the meantime, he may still have to resign if His close circle was turning against him.”
He added that Johnson was likely to announce new policy initiatives in a bid to win over the Conservative Party and public opinion.
“What is most obvious is to use any remaining leeway on fiscal policy to promise deep tax cuts and more handouts, possibly at the Conservative Party conference in October,” he added.
According to Monks, Johnson’s long-term future will likely depend on how these measures are received by party members and voters.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”