Parties are not happening in 10 Downing Street. Surprising as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of confidence on 6 June. Not so surprising if you appreciate the win was narrow and amid many Damoclean swords hanging over Johnson’s head. The vote was initiated by Johnson’s own disgruntled MPs. Though 211 MPs voted for him, against the required majority of 180, the fact is as many as 148 voted against him. Disheartening it should be for Johnson as it means more than 40 per cent of his own men have expressed no-confidence in him.
Johnson’s Conservative 211 votes work out to a disheartening 59 per cent, lower than Theresa May’s 63 per cent in a similar vote in December 2018. Six months after the vote, May quit. Will Johnson’s fate be similar? Perhaps possible, as the dangling daggers over Johnson’s head are many. First of all, Johnson’s opponents are continuing to pull up their sleeves higher. Johnson’s narrow win has exposed the widening rifts within Johnson’s own Conservative party. This is bound to hurt Johnson seriously and punctuate his future prospects with more question marks. As the next general election in January 2025 comes closer, the question marks are getting bigger and numerous.
Johnson can go to any length to roll out his roster of achievements. He may thump his table to draw attention to Brexit and to his covid-19 vaccine programme, among other sundries. He may go on to dole out fairy promises of slashes in taxes, State control and reining in public expenditure. Will these promises win Johnson a fifth consecutive term?
Quite unlikely. Johnson’s constituency of critics, both from his own party and outside, is getting more vocal about his responses to the cost-of-living crisis. Food and fuel prices have taken wings under Johnson’s watch. Worse, Johnson’s government is facing tough decisions on taxes and public spending.
Brags and Bombasts
How will Johnson confront these issues with a bitterly divided party behind him? Britons know well Johnson has failed to push the Northern England economy, he has been unable to forge new transport links and he remains unconcerned about his attitude towards the NI protocol. These issues are sure to come back to bite Johnson sooner than later.
Nevertheless, Johnson is soldiering on. His brags on Brexit are not working. His bombasts are not able to keep his flock together. His key people including Jeremy Hunt, Douglas Ross and Dehenna Davison have withdrawn their support. In 2019, Johnson had won the general elections and so soon he is forfeiting popular support. Sad, and good reason for him to fear about the numerous dangling over his chair. High time Johnson realised politics is different. Absolute control over your stable of supporters is more important than your achievements and it is how politics works. Partymen loyalty overrides populism.
Bashes and Blasts
The risk of Johnson’s Conservative Party splitting due to serious differences is there and has not gone away. Heavyweights from the Labour and the Brexit opposition, a few from his own party as well, are smouldering with dissatisfaction with Johnson, who they call a fibber and a featherweight.
So, Johnson should clearly see the pack of wolves waiting hungrily at his door. The British voters are tired of the continuing Brexit deadlock. They look eager to put the likes of Corbyns in power. Johnson’s approval ratings are heading south. Intolerable arrogance of hero-worshipping partymen has made the situation more difficult for Johnson. Worse, Johnson’s notorious covid rule-violations are now legendary. Britons can never forget a Johnson, despite covid lockdowns, running amok with his non-stop alcoholic bashes and blasts in his official residence.
Misfortunes in Droves
Covid protocol violations apart, these freak-outs violated the sense of decorum and decency of his prudish countrymen. Johnson’s refusal to repent, his attempts to mislead parliament and his partymen’s hubristic justifications are infractions Britain would not forget easily. Growing impatient, the Privileges Committee could now hasten its probe into Johnson’s partying improprieties.
Human experience shows misfortunes come in droves. Adding terrible insult to Johnson’s barely squeezed-through confidence vote, his ratings within his own party have plummeted painfully. Good excuse now for all, moderates including, to jump on to the now-rolling anti-Johnson bandwagon.
With opposition to Johnson turning viral, vote-of-confidence rules can be possibly amended. Currently, party rules do not allow another vote of confidence in the next 12 months. What use of this rule in the face of fiercely-blowing opposition winds? Sure to make Johnson see a bunch of daggers dangling.
Opposition’s resolve to oust Johnson is expected to get steelier after the two June by-elections in West Yorkshire and Devon. Reason: Johnson’s party is expected to be elbowed out of these two seats. Sensing a golden opportunity, serious contenders including his foreign secretary, education secretary and trade minister, have joined the ranks of those attempting to push Johnson out of his prime ministerial perch.
What is notable is these indicators point towards a nasty civil war brewing within his party and without. Within his party, Johnson’s support is definitely evaporating. The electorate too is getting restive over Johnson’s expensive and extravagant lifestyle marked by brags and brashness. Thus, his winning the confidence vote is nothing more than the beginning of a coming debacle.
Ian Blackford, a SNP man and a vocal critic of Johnson, called the prime minister a dead man walking. In fact, Johnson is something worse. He is a dead man, not walking. He is a dead man sitting, ready to tumble out of his chair anytime.