Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now expected to stay in power for another seven weeks after winning a confidence vote on Monday July 18, in which he vigorously defended his government’s record and hinted that the so-called ‘deep state’ could try to reverse Brexit.
After winning the vote of confidence by 349 votes to 238, a majority of 111, Johnson will remain in office until a new leader of the ruling Conservative Party is appointed on September 5.
In a highly unusual move, the government called for a vote of confidence in itself after rejecting a Labor motion that censured Johnson. Holding the debate and vote was a largely symbolic move by the Labor opposition, which wanted to highlight the contradiction between Tory MPs deciding to oust Johnson earlier this month after a series of scandals over his honesty and integrity, but always voting in favor of his government.
In another sour debate, the hardest blow was dealt by Scottish National Party lawmaker Stewart McDonald who described Johnson’s administration as “a government in name only, it’s essentially now a form of hooliganism organized conservative who squats in these state offices, who squats in these departments and squats especially in Downing Street.
In language more used by conspiracy theorists, Johnson hinted that with him out of office, the ‘deep state’ would try to ‘bring us back into alignment with the EU as a prelude to our eventual return’. .
Meanwhile, the Tory leadership race to replace Johnson is now down to four candidates after Tom Tugendhat, the centrist chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, was knocked out in the final round of voting Conservative MPs on Monday evening.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who garnered 115 votes in the last round, needs just five more votes to secure his place as one of two candidates in the second round among the party’s 150,000 members.
Of the other three candidates vying for second place, Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt on 82 votes is slightly ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on 71 and Junior Minister Kemi Badenoch, also from the party right, on 58 votes, after campaigning on an ‘anti -woke’ platform.
Two more rounds of voting will take place on Tuesday to determine the two final candidates, and the transfer of votes from the eliminated candidates will be decisive in determining the result. Internal polls suggest Mordaunt has lost the initial advantage among Conservative party members to rival candidates.
Sunak is the only candidate who would immediately reduce Labor’s opinion poll lead over the Tories, suggesting he is most likely to win a general election.
However, the leadership race has been marred by personal attacks from several candidates, leading to the cancellation of the final televised debate scheduled for Monday night as the Conservative party seeks to avoid a civil war.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]