Politics

Boris Johnson's no confidence vote: What happens next?

What do Boris Johnson's defenders, critics and political pundits think will happen next?

What's next for Boris Johnson?

Political allies, opponents and analysts are asking 'what's next for Boris Johnson?' after confidence vote. Image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson might not be out the door just yet, but he’s certainly knocking on it as the Conservative Party has shown itself to be deeply fractured over his premiership.

Tory MPs voted on Johnson’s future last night after he faced a crisis of confidence within his own ranks. He limped towards a win, with 211 supporting Johnson versus 148 who said they had no confidence in the prime minister. He needed 180 votes of confidence to survive. 

After learning his fate, Johnson looked gaunt leaving Number 10. With two crunch by-elections on the horizon in Tiverton and Honiton as well as Wakefield, the future looks unsteady. Here’s what his political opponents, allies and analysts are saying about what’s next for Boris Johnson.

The rebels on what’s next for Boris Johnson

Tory rebels across the party will be seeing the results of this no confidence vote as the beginning of the end of Johnson’s premiership.

One of the more recent MPs to submit a letter of no confidence before the vote, Brexiteer and MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen, compared the result with that seen in 2018, when former Prime Minister Theresa May struggled through a vote of no confidence.

May survived with 200 votes to 117, a larger margin than Johnson’s, but resigned six months later.

“The Prime Minister should now leave with honour and residual affection for what he has achieved,” Bridgen said in a tweet. 

Also reflecting on Johnson’s result in comparison to May’s, MP for Romsey and Southampton North Caroline Nokes shared a link to a 2018 BBC Newsnight video of Jacob Rees-Mogg calling the result of May’s vote “a very bad night for the prime minister”. He went on to call for her resignation. 

In the lead up to Johnson’s vote, though, Rees-Mogg said that even winning by one vote would be enough for Johnson to stay. 

Nokes, who has previously said she submitted her letter of no confidence “a very long time ago”, is evidently unimpressed with the hypocrisy.

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, is another voice in the chorus of backbenchers calling for Johnson to go, saying the prime minister “no longer enjoys the full-hearted confidence of the parliamentary party”.

It seems likely that the wave of backbenchers calling for Johnson’s resignation will only get stronger, particularly if there are losses in the upcoming by-elections as expected.

The loyalists on what’s next for Boris Johnson

Johnson’s closest allies have been staunch in their support for the prime minister since the vote of no confidence was announced.

Speaking to Sky News, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said that despite the result “not being something the government wanted”, it is time to “move forward”.

Almost immediately after the result was announced, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said it was “time to get back to the job of governing”. But her comments before the confidence vote showed the widening split within the Conservative Party as she took a swipe at Johnson critic Jeremy Hunt for “destabilising” the party.

It’s cracks like these which could see the stability of Johnson’s leadership questioned over coming months.

Other conservatives have declared a victory, despite the clear signs of fracturing within the party. Johnson loyalist Zac Goldsmith and foreign office minister James Cleverly both called it a “clear win” for the prime minister and stated the government must now “get back to work”.

It seems a rather familiar tactic will be played out in coming weeks, with Johnson’s ardent supporters keen to sweep the result of the no confidence vote under the rug.

The other political parties on what’s next for Boris Johnson

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said in a tweet that the party would be tabling a motion of no confidence in the prime minister today. “The lying lawbreaker is barely clinging on,” he said. 

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Keir Starmer said that the “divided Tories” were “propping up” the prime minister.

Whatever happens next, Labour’s Jo Stevens has potentially summed up the next few months. “This isn’t going away,” she said in a tweet.

Despite the efforts of Tory frontbenchers, it seems no side of the political divide will let the flagging lack of confidence in Johnson slide.

What do the analysts think?

The coming weeks, months, and even years leading up to the 2024 general election could be shaky ground for the prime minister, according to political analysts.

In the immediate aftermath of the no confidence vote, The Times has reported that a cabinet reshuffle could be announced within days, as a way for Johnson to reward his most avid supporters. Speaking to the Politico newsletter London Playbook, a Number 10 source said that while conversations on a reshuffle haven’t yet happened, “there may be a case for changing and replacing some people”.

Senior politics correspondent at The New Statesman Harry Lambert believes Johnson’s “days in No 10 are very likely numbered,” and suggested the 1922 Committee rules could soon be changed, meaning Johnson could face another confidence vote within six months, rather than the current period of a year.

Also in The Times, policy editor Oli Wright said the unravelling cost of living crisis could be another hurdle. “The problem for Johnson is whatever policy he pursues will alienate more of his MPs,” he wrote. “Some want him to go further to support people, while others argue that such direct intervention is fundamentally unconservative and will prolong rather than allay the crisis.”

Wright said it is now a question of when, not if, he is replaced.

In The Mirror, political editor Pippa Crerar said the “next big moment of peril” could come in the form of the upcoming by-elections, with at least Wakefield expected to fall away from the Tories. If the predicted loss becomes a reality, it could see “Red Wall MPs questioning their support for the Prime Minister,” Crerar said.

Even if Johnson is safe at the moment, the remainder of 2022 could prove to be a major challenge. For now, it’s a case of watching and waiting. 

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