British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the results of a confidence vote in his leadership as “convincing” and “decisive,” though over 40 percent of his own Conservative MPs voted against him.
Johnson survived a vote of confidence within the ruling Conservative Party on Monday, with 211 MPs backing him and 148 wanting him to step down over the partygate scandal.
Shortly after the results were announced, Johnson told broadcasters, “I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country.”
He said it was “a convincing result, a decisive result, and what it means is that as a government we can move on and focus on the stuff that I think really matters to people.”
He ruled out a snap election in order to gain a new mandate from the public, insisting he was focused on the public’s priorities.
At a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday, the prime minister thanked his senior Tory colleagues for their support during the confidence vote.
He said, “It was a very important day because we are able now to draw a line under the issues that our opponents want to talk about and we are able to get on talking about the issues that I think the people want.”
He told ministers that the government is now going to focus “exclusively” on things like “dealing with the aftershocks of COVID,” “cushion inflationary impact,” and “rising energy prices.”
The confidence vote followed the May 25 publication of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into COVID-19 breaches in Downing Street and the remarks by the prime minister’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt that Johnson may have breached the ministerial code by attending parties during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
The vote in his favour means that Johnson is now immune for a year from any further such vote against him being triggered. However, many commentators from across the political spectrum say he may yet be forced out by other political forces.
In the wake of the ballot, senior Cabinet ministers voiced their support for Johnson’s leadership.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it is “time to move forward” and the government can now “get back to work growing the economy and delivering better public services.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she supports Johnson “100 percent” and “now’s the time to get on with the job.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the prime minister has secured “a fresh mandate” from the Conservative Party and “now we need to unite and focus on the country’s challenges.”
But some senior members of the Conservative Party said Johnson’s position is untenable. Former Conservative leader William Hague said Johnson has experienced a “greater level of rejection” than any of his predecessors and should quit the premiership.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Committee in the House of Commons, suggested the prime minister would only survive for “a matter of months.”
Opposition parties have criticised Conservative MPs for “propping up” Boris Johnson.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Johnson was “utterly unfit for the great office he holds” and accused Tory MPs of ignoring the British public.
He said, “The Conservative government now believes that breaking the law is no impediment to making the law.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Conservative MPs are now fully responsible for the prime minister’s behaviour. They have narrowly voted to keep a lawbreaker and liar in Number 10.”
He added: “Every Conservative MP who cares about integrity and decency must do the right thing, resign the whip and sit as an independent. For the sake of our country, this failing prime minister cannot be propped up any longer.
Chris Summers and PA Media contributed to this report.