I hope Boris Johnson enjoyed the Jubilee weekend, but I rather doubt it. After years of unfulfilled promises, ineffectual or disastrous policies, and scandal after scandal with no real accountability, Tory MPs finally had enough and submitted the letters for a Vote of No Confidence. I think the sight of their fearless Leader getting Booed at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations ultimately tipped them over the edge.
Last night, Boris Johnson ‘won’ the vote of No Confidence, 211 to 148. Technically, he has the support of his party, but you can almost hear the words ‘But don’t push it’ whispered in the background. He retained 59% support of the Parliamentary party, which he has declared a resounding victory. Had he won by a single vote, he would have declared it a resounding victory. But the numbers, and history, tell a different story.
In theory, a Vote of No Confidence should be taken as a warning. They don’t often succeed in dissolving a government. The last successful one was in 1979. But they are a sign that people are pissed with the current state of affairs, with the direction the PM leading them. So it could be taken as a suggestion that a course correction is needed. However, it’s usually a sign for a Prime Minister to start packing.
Maggie Thatcher faced a Vote of No Confidence in 1989, which she won with 84% support, a solid victory. But it was a sign of divisions in the party, and she resigned in 1990.
John Major called for a Confidence vote on himself in 1995, asserting that if he won, he would expect the party to stop sniping and fall in line. He won the vote, but the party did not stop sniping, did not fall in line. The vote made the party divisions painfully public, and a divided party cannot win elections. They lost the Election in 1997. Major was out.
Iain Duncan Smith lost a vote of No Confidence when he wasn’t even PM. It was the first time the Tories used the tactic to oust someone not in power.
Theresa May won her No Confidence vote with 63% support, but resigned 5 months later after failing to get her Brexit deal passed. People are hard on Theresa May, but she had more support from her party than BoJo, and the Brexit deal he made was very nearly the same as the one May put forth. I believe a lot of the hate on Theresa May is down to Old Boys Network misogyny. I also believe she still wears a mask to hide her grin at every bumbling mis-step Boris Johnson makes. That grin must be permanent by now.
I’m not surprised Boris survived the vote. No Confidence votes rarely succeed. While I believe almost everything Bojo has done, whether personal scandal or public policy, merits his demise, the man is a greased pig when it comes to accountability. The Vote is a sign that people want him out. The question is, who comes next.
There is no clear successor within the party, but there are a few with Prime Ministerial ambitions.
Rishi Sunak was a favourite for quite a while. He was made Chancellor in January 2020 and immediately had to deal with the Covid Crisis. He handled it well, creating the Furlough Scheme and business support loans, so companies forced to shut during lockdowns didn’t fold completely, just paused. As a result, we don’t have mass unemployment, mass homelessness… yet. He’s not dealing as well with the Cost-of-living crisis, but he’s trying. However, he is tainted by the fact that his MULTI-MILLIONAIRE wife took Non-Dom status and paid no taxes while her husband was chancellor. It was also a full month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine before the Sunaks cut all business ties with Russia. So he’s all brains and practicality, but no moral compass.
Then there’s Jeremy Hunt. The Former Health Secretary is one of the most hated figures in the NHS. A public petition advocating his dismissal reached 222,000 signatures. And when you consider the British tradition of rhyming slang, his name is most unfortunate.
I distrust Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, for a few reasons. She is weak on LGBTQ+ rights, bolstering the hostility to trans people in the UK. She takes Maggie Thatcher as a role model, which makes her popular with the tories and sends a chill to my soul. One Thatcher did enough damage, I shudder to think what her tribute act would do. And finally, she was quoted saying people should ‘Move on from partygate because Boris Johnson had delivered Brexit.’ So she supports the social and economic disaster that is Brexit, and she doesn’t think people in power should be held accountable for breaking the law when it suits them. I don’t want that person in charge of my country. Lack of judgement, lack of moral compass.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been mentioned, but she’s too busy setting the British Navy to catch incoming migrants and then shipping them to Rwanda.
Boris Johnson thinks he is still Prime Minister because of his political acumen, his skilled leadership and his libertarian agenda, but really it’s just a lack of options. He is now safe from another leadership challenge for a year, and has another year after that before the next general election.
Boris Johnson grew up wanting to be Prime Minister. Not because he had some clear vision for what the country could be, but just because the PM is in charge and that’s a cool thing to be. He wanted to win the title. I’m not sure he ever really wanted the job. But he’s got it now, and he’s got 2 years to do something with it. Maybe he’ll take the clear warning he’s received from Parliament as well as the Boos from the throngs of people and make some changes to his agenda and policies, ones that will actually help the people. Maybe.
But I have No Confidence.