British Prime Minister Johnson to Face No-Confidence Vote (VIDEO)

If Johnson loses the vote among the 359 Conservative lawmakers, the party will elect a new leader who will become prime minister.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to face a no-confidence vote on Monday that could oust him from power as dissatisfaction with his rule threatens to finally topple a politician who, despite many scandals, has often seemed invincible.

If Johnson loses the vote among the 359 Conservative lawmakers, the party will elect a new leader, who will also become prime minister. If he wins, which seems more likely, he won’t be able to face another challenge for a year under current party rules – although a narrow win would leave him a shackled leader whose days are probably numbered.

Regardless of the outcome, the fact that enough lawmakers are calling for such a vote marks a turning point for Johnson. It’s also a sign of deep Conservative divisions, less than three years after Johnson led the party to its biggest election victory in decades.

Johnson’s reputation as a winner has previously protected him from the fallout from a growing number of scandals. But lately he’s been struggling to turn the page on revelations that he and his staff have repeatedly thrown boisterous parties in violation of the COVID-19 restrictions they imposed on Britain in 2020 and 2021.

Conservative Party official Graham Brady announced on Monday that he had received letters calling for a vote of no confidence from at least 54 Tory MPs, enough to trigger the measure under party rules.

“The threshold of 15% (of Conservatives in the House of Commons) has been crossed,” Brady said. He said the vote will take place in the House of Commons on Monday night, with the result announced shortly thereafter.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said the Prime Minister welcomed the vote.

“Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on and implement people’s priorities,” it said.

Months of growing discontent erupted after a 10-day parliamentary recess that included a long weekend of celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. For many, the four-day holiday was an opportunity to unwind – but there was no respite for Johnson, who was booed by some onlookers as he arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral for a service in honor of the Queen on Friday.

Brady said some lawmakers who have filed letters of no confidence have asked for them to be withheld until after the anniversary weekend.

Still, most political observers believe Johnson will enlist the support of more than 180 lawmakers and rise to the challenge. But he could still come out of it severely weakened. The last prime minister to survive a no-confidence vote was Theresa May in 2018. She never regained her authority and resigned within months, sparking a leadership contest won by Johnson.

His selection in July 2019 capped a roller coaster ride to the top. He had held important posts, including Mayor of London and UK Foreign Secretary, but had also spent time on the political sidelines after gaffes of his own making. He bounced back and displayed an unusual ability to shrug off scandal and connect with voters that for many conservatives overshadowed doubts about his ethics or judgment.

But concerns have grown, coming to a head after an investigator’s report late last month that slammed a culture of rule-breaking at the prime minister’s office in a scandal known as “Partygate”.

Public Service investigator Sue Gray described alcohol-fuelled parties thrown by Downing Street staff at a time when pandemic restrictions were preventing UK residents from socializing or even visiting dying relatives.

Gray said the “senior leadership team” must take responsibility for “leadership and judgment failures.”

Johnson was also fined £50 ($63) by police for attending a party, making him the first prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law during his tenure.

The Prime Minister said he was “humble” and took “full responsibility” – but insisted he would not step down. He urged the British to “move on” and focus on fixing the struggling economy and helping Ukraine defend against a Russian invasion.

But a growing number of Conservatives feel Johnson is now a burden that will doom them to defeat in the next election, which must be held by 2024.

“Today’s decision is change or lose,” said Jeremy Hunt, who ran against Johnson for Conservative leadership in 2019 but has largely withheld him since. “I will vote for change.”

Lawmaker Jesse Norman, a longtime Johnson supporter, said Monday the prime minister had “led a culture of random law-breaking” and left the government “errant and distracted”.

“I am afraid I see no circumstances in which I could serve in any government you lead,” Norman wrote in a letter posted to social media.

Another Tory MP, John Penrose, resigned as Prime Minister’s “anti-corruption champion” on Monday, saying Johnson’s behavior exposed by partygate broke the government’s code of conduct.

But senior ministers offered messages of support for Johnson – including some who would likely participate in the Conservative leadership contest that would be sparked if he were ousted.

“The Prime Minister has my 100 percent support in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him,” Secretary of State Liz Truss, one of the favorites to succeed Johnson, wrote in a tweet.

Cabinet Secretary Steve Barclay, a Johnson ally, said ousting the leader now was “unjustifiable”.

“The problems we face are not easy to solve,” but Conservatives have the right plan to address them, he wrote on Conservative Home’s website.

“To disrupt that progress now would be inexcusable for many who voted for us for the first time in the last general election and who want to see our Prime Minister introduce the changes promised for their communities.”

Additional coverage from the Associated Press. British Prime Minister Johnson to Face No-Confidence Vote (VIDEO)

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