Doubts hang over UK PM Johnson despite surviving confidence vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday tried to patch up his tattered authority after surviving a no-confidence vote that revealed the scale of the threat to his position and raised serious doubts about how long he can stay in office.

Under party rules, Johnson is now free from another challenge for a year. But previous Conservative prime ministers who have faced no-confidence votes have been terminally damaged — and a growing number of Conservative lawmakers worry that the famously people-pleasing Johnson could now be a liability with voters.

Johnson nevertheless vowed to “get on with the job” and focus on “what matters to the British people” — defined by him as the economy, health care and crime — after Conservative lawmakers voted by 211 to 148 to support him as the leader.

“We are able now to draw a line under the issues that our opponents want to talk about” and “take the country forward,” Johnson told his Cabinet colleagues.

But the scale of the rebellion raised serious questions about his ability to govern at a time of increasing economic and social strain. Former Conservative leader William Hague called on Johnson to step down, saying “the damage done to his premiership is severe.”

“This is not over,” echoed Philip Dunne, a Conservative lawmaker who voted against Johnson in Monday’s no-confidence ballot.

Johnson’s first challenge will be to convince his most senior allies, some of whom would have likely run to replace him if he had been forced out, that he will be able to move on from questions about his leadership.

Johnson’s office issued a statement earlier saying he would use the meeting to set out his vision for the coming weeks, including new policies to reduce the cost of child care and to help more people buy their own homes.

“This is a government that delivers on what the people of this country care about most,” Johnson said in the statement.

“We are on the side of hard-working British people, and we are going to get on with the job.”

Lawmakers in Johnson’s party called the confidence vote after months of scandal over lockdown-breaking parties at the heart of government and criticism of his response to an inflation-fueled surge in the cost of living.

In 2018, Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May won a larger percentage of a similar confidence vote only to resign six months later.

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