Speed Reads


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces imminent no-confidence vote after Tory backbench revolt

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a vote of confidence in Parliament on Monday night, London time, after a backbench revolt by members of his own Conservative Party, Sir Graham Brady announced Monday morning. Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee that oversees Conservative leadership challenges, said 54 of the 360 Tory MPs had informed him by letter that they support a vote, surpassing the 15 percent threshold. 

Brady said he had informed No. 10 Downing Street of the confidence vote on Sunday and Johnson's team agreed to hold the vote as soon as possible. Many senior Conservative lawmakers, including the majority of Johnson's Cabinet, announced they will back the prime minister in Monday night's secret ballot. Johnson "welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs," his office said, and the vote will be "a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on" after the months-long "Partygate" scandal.

If at least 180 Tory MPs vote against Johnson, he will be forced to step down and the Conservatives will begin choosing a new leader, with Johnson ineligible to stand for re-election. If Johnson wins the vote — as his predecessor, Theresa May, did in 2019 — he is immune from another confidence vote for another 12 months. 

Still, prime ministers can "win" confidence votes and lose their job, the BBC's Nick Robinson notes, pointing out that May stepped down within six months of her winning vote and Margaret Thatcher did the same eight days after surviving a confidence vote. Johnson, he added, "will probably cling on and wait for something to turn up."

"Make no mistake: confidence votes are almost always bad news for political leaders," BBC News politics editor Chris Mason writes. Plenty of Conservative MPs — "including the rebels — expect Boris Johnson to win tonight. But an arithmetical win is not the same as a political one," and "what we will get tonight is an indisputable number: the number of Tory MPs who want the prime minister out. It's a number that will hang around Boris Johnson's neck for the rest of his time in office."