Boris Johnson ignores the punishment of 41% of his deputies and celebrates his victory in the internal censure motion

Boris Johnson interpreted the rules of social distancing during the lockdown in his own way, and has also applied his own personal interpretation to the rules of the policy. The prime minister has managed to survive the internal censure motion that his own deputies raised with him on Monday, outraged by the scandal of the parties banned in Downing Street during the pandemic. 211 parliamentarians, out of a total of 359, have supported Johnson’s continuation. 148 have voted in favor of his dismissal. 41.3%. A devastating number. Far superior to those that ended up causing the resignation of Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May, when the then prime ministers suffered their own internal rebellions.

Under normal conditions, the fact that almost half of the parliamentary group had expressed their rejection of the party leader would have turned Johnson into a dead man walking (a walking dead, a zombie, come on), as George Osborne, one of the most agile and astute minds in the Conservative Party, called May after her Pyrrhic victory. But Johnson belongs to his own genre, and he has quickly turned the result around to present it as a liberating victory. “It is a decisive and conclusive moment. It is an extremely positive result. It allows us to put this whole situation behind us, and focus on the important things, and on uniting the party, ”Johnson told the BBC, minutes after the result of the vote was known.

The general feeling among Tories, however, rather suggests that this new chapter in the Shakespearean tragicomedy that Johnson’s tenure has become has a scent of the beginning of the end. As much as the prime minister wants to present it as a concluding moment, almost like a renewed mandate that allows him to turn the page and focus on other issues.

Firstly, on June 23 there will be two by-elections, in the constituencies of Wakefield and Tiverton. The by-elections they are the elections to replace, in the middle of the legislature, a vacant seat. In this case, both Neil Parish (reported for watching porn on his mobile in the middle of the parliamentary session) and Imran Ahmad Khan (convicted of sexual abuse of a minor) chose to resign. Both were Conservative MPs. Their seats, polls predict, will end up in the hands of the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats. Two new electoral defeats that, if confirmed, will remind parliamentarians again Tories that Johnson has gone from being an infallible electoral weapon to becoming a hindrance.

“History shows us that this is the beginning of the end. If you look at previous internal Conservative Party no-confidence motions, even when the prime minister survives, the damage has already been done,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said. “Conservative MPs have chosen to ignore British citizens and tie themselves and their party firmly to Johnson, and to what Johnson stands for,” Starmer denounced.

The most veteran rebels, such as the Eurosceptic David Davis – crucial in the internal maneuvers to bring down May, and one of the first to demand Johnson’s resignation for the partygate— immediately pointed out the mistake that allowed the prime minister to get out of the coup attempt alive. The timing, Davis has said, was not right. “And now he has to remain in limbo for a year. In addition to the fact that the resolution of the Privileges Committee still lies ahead [de la Cámara de los Comunes]”, the deputy recalled. Two very relevant data, which anticipate that this whole soap opera is far from over.

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According to the rules, once the internal censure motion has been voted, a new one cannot be presented again within a year. Johnson has 12 months of apparent security. Whatever the result of the by-elections on June 23, or whatever the conclusions of the committee. This parliamentary body, similar to the Spanish Commission for the Statute of the Deputy, analyzes the ethical behavior of parliamentarians. In Johnson’s case, it must determine whether the prime minister was in contempt of court and lied to the House of Commons by denying his knowledge of the Downing Street parties. The result of that investigation, which the Conservative deputies allowed with their abstention to get under way —Downing Street tried to maneuver to stop it—, already seems evident. Especially after the devastating report by the senior official, Sue Gray, who blamed Johnson for a culture of alcohol, excess and lack of respect in government agencies.

Approximately 80% of the 211 deputies who have supported Johnson in the motion of internal censure hold a government position and are on the payroll (in the payroll, as British political parlance cynically puts it) of Downing Street. It was foreseeable that they would defend the boss, who was not ultimately the true winner of this Monday’s vote. Victory belongs to the Labor or Liberal Democrat opposition, who will from this moment denounce how their conservative rivals have tied themselves to Johnson’s fate. Or of the Scottish nationalists, determined to promote their independence referendum in this legislature. “The result is the worst possible for the Conservatives,” Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s chief minister, wrote on her Twitter account. “But more importantly, at a time of many challenges, it ties the UK to a prime minister who is a complete lame duck,” added Sturgeon. lame Duck, lick duck, is the American term used to define the president who is in the final stretch of his second term. That is, without the ability to take the political initiative.

Johnson is a long way from thinking of himself as a lame duck, despite history pointing the other way. None of the six Conservative prime ministers who have suffered a no-confidence motion in recent decades have managed to recover from the limp.

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