How Much Teflon Does Boris Johnson Have Left?

CommentaryOn the face of it, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson surviving a no-confidence vote with a 63-vote majority is a good result. Out of a total of 359 Conservative MPs, 211 voted for Johnson, while 148 voted to oust him. The result was not quite as good as the 83-vote, 63 percent majority that Theresa May secured in her no-confidence vote in 2018, but then she hadn’t been caught breaking her own laws. When I asked Nigel Farage, the real motivating force behind Brexit and close ally of Donald Trump, what he thought of the outcome, he told me: “The result was really bad for Johnson and he will now lead a party of increasing indiscipline and chaos. The Conservative brand is tarnished and they are heading for electoral disaster.” But the man who allowed his staff to party on—even joining them on occasion—while enforcing the Chinese Communist Party-inspired killer lockdowns on the British people gets to stay in power—for now at least. Johnson has survived despite suffering the ignominy of becoming the only sitting prime minister in the long history of the mother of parliaments to be found guilty of breaking the law and fined. His predecessors would most likely have resigned, but times have changed. The vote was called after the prime minister was found guilty of breaking his own rushed-through legislation on social gatherings in what became known as “Partygate.” The most infamous event was the “Bring Your Own Booze” soiree that took place in the garden of 10 Downing St. on May 20, 2020, less than an hour after then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced stiff penalties to the British people if they didn’t comply with the latest COVID directive. “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor public place provided that you stay two meters apart,” he warned. And this is far from the only time Johnson has broken the rules, as this article in OpenDemocracy explains in depth. Some of those backbenchers would have voted against him to appease their constituents’ anger— but also as a warning shot, safe in the knowledge that he was always going to win, as 95 MPs with government positions are required to vote for the prime minister or resign. That’s right. The prime minister doesn’t have to resign for breaking the law, but the MPs do if they don’t support him when he gets caught. Their aim may have been to rein him in rather than force him out. “We are trying to deliver Conservative policies and Conservative legislation,” one influential backbencher, Sir Roger Gale, told the BBC. “It is Mr. Johnson who is the problem. He doesn’t seem to recognise that.” The prime minister seemed to have got the message this time, as his very first speech to his cabinet on winning the vote was to “vow to return to Conservative policies.” At heart, Johnson is much more aligned with U.S. President Joe Biden than Trump, and the rest of the Conservative Party aren’t too far behind him either. To understand where this Conservative government stands, imagine a Biden White House and a RINO [Republican in Name Only] Congress, with hardly a pro-Trumper in sight. Two local elections are coming up that could go badly for the Conservatives. Even worse for Johnson, if he is found guilty, is a Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee investigation into whether he lied to Parliament over Partygate. The greatest asset Johnson has is that the alternatives to him are probably worse. To his credit, he did bring the UK out of lockdown faster than other countries, although he should never have followed China’s example in the first place. One name tipped to replace him is Jeremy Hunt, a former foreign and health secretary who is currently without a government job after losing the Conservative Party leadership race in 2019 following May’s resignation. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, he voted to remain in the European Union, and while serving as Foreign Minister, he defied the Trump administration’s embargo on Iran by allowing one of its oil tankers, the Grace 1, to sail on after it had been impounded in Gibraltar, as I reported for The Washington Times. Just before the no-confidence vote, one Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, revealed to Parliament that while serving as health minister during the pandemic, Hunt had proposed adopting more strict China-style measures. She said: “On [the] afternoon of 23rd July 2020 when I was health minister you telephoned me to tell me that we had to handle the pandemic following the example set by the East/China. That people testing + [positive] should be removed from their homes and placed into isolation hotels for two weeks.” – Nadine Dorries @NadineDorries June 6, 2022. The next election doesn’t have to be held until May 2, 2024. So that’s two years to get things turned around and they know the economy is key to that. However, it is difficult to deal with an energy crisis when they are signed up to reducing fossil fuel reliance. Or are they? Green Party MP Caroline Lucas c

How Much Teflon Does Boris Johnson Have Left?

Commentary

On the face of it, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson surviving a no-confidence vote with a 63-vote majority is a good result. Out of a total of 359 Conservative MPs, 211 voted for Johnson, while 148 voted to oust him.

The result was not quite as good as the 83-vote, 63 percent majority that Theresa May secured in her no-confidence vote in 2018, but then she hadn’t been caught breaking her own laws.

When I asked Nigel Farage, the real motivating force behind Brexit and close ally of Donald Trump, what he thought of the outcome, he told me: “The result was really bad for Johnson and he will now lead a party of increasing indiscipline and chaos. The Conservative brand is tarnished and they are heading for electoral disaster.”

But the man who allowed his staff to party on—even joining them on occasion—while enforcing the Chinese Communist Party-inspired killer lockdowns on the British people gets to stay in power—for now at least.

Johnson has survived despite suffering the ignominy of becoming the only sitting prime minister in the long history of the mother of parliaments to be found guilty of breaking the law and fined. His predecessors would most likely have resigned, but times have changed.

The vote was called after the prime minister was found guilty of breaking his own rushed-through legislation on social gatherings in what became known as “Partygate.”

The most infamous event was the “Bring Your Own Booze” soiree that took place in the garden of 10 Downing St. on May 20, 2020, less than an hour after then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced stiff penalties to the British people if they didn’t comply with the latest COVID directive.

“You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor public place provided that you stay two meters apart,” he warned.

And this is far from the only time Johnson has broken the rules, as this article in OpenDemocracy explains in depth.

Some of those backbenchers would have voted against him to appease their constituents’ anger— but also as a warning shot, safe in the knowledge that he was always going to win, as 95 MPs with government positions are required to vote for the prime minister or resign.

That’s right. The prime minister doesn’t have to resign for breaking the law, but the MPs do if they don’t support him when he gets caught.

Their aim may have been to rein him in rather than force him out.

“We are trying to deliver Conservative policies and Conservative legislation,” one influential backbencher, Sir Roger Gale, told the BBC. “It is Mr. Johnson who is the problem. He doesn’t seem to recognise that.”

The prime minister seemed to have got the message this time, as his very first speech to his cabinet on winning the vote was to “vow to return to Conservative policies.”

At heart, Johnson is much more aligned with U.S. President Joe Biden than Trump, and the rest of the Conservative Party aren’t too far behind him either. To understand where this Conservative government stands, imagine a Biden White House and a RINO [Republican in Name Only] Congress, with hardly a pro-Trumper in sight.

Two local elections are coming up that could go badly for the Conservatives. Even worse for Johnson, if he is found guilty, is a Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee investigation into whether he lied to Parliament over Partygate.

The greatest asset Johnson has is that the alternatives to him are probably worse. To his credit, he did bring the UK out of lockdown faster than other countries, although he should never have followed China’s example in the first place.

One name tipped to replace him is Jeremy Hunt, a former foreign and health secretary who is currently without a government job after losing the Conservative Party leadership race in 2019 following May’s resignation.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, he voted to remain in the European Union, and while serving as Foreign Minister, he defied the Trump administration’s embargo on Iran by allowing one of its oil tankers, the Grace 1, to sail on after it had been impounded in Gibraltar, as I reported for The Washington Times.

Just before the no-confidence vote, one Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, revealed to Parliament that while serving as health minister during the pandemic, Hunt had proposed adopting more strict China-style measures.

She said: “On [the] afternoon of 23rd July 2020 when I was health minister you telephoned me to tell me that we had to handle the pandemic following the example set by the East/China. That people testing + [positive] should be removed from their homes and placed into isolation hotels for two weeks.” – Nadine Dorries @NadineDorries June 6, 2022.

The next election doesn’t have to be held until May 2, 2024. So that’s two years to get things turned around and they know the economy is key to that. However, it is difficult to deal with an energy crisis when they are signed up to reducing fossil fuel reliance.

Or are they? Green Party MP Caroline Lucas claims that new tax rebates for energy companies will only apply if they extract more oil and gas. If true, that is more a sign of desperation than signaling a coherent government strategy. Of its 360 MPs, 133—including Hunt—have joined its green lobbying group, the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), and many of its government ministers would if they could.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices are soaring in the UK and on June 8 saw the biggest daily jump in 17 years. The average price for a gallon of fuel is now $8.58 at the pumps, compared to U.S. averages of about $5.

Energy prices are also going up and although the war in Ukraine is being blamed for most things, the disastrous deal the UK  struck with the French energy group EDF in 2013 to build a new generation of low-carbon nuclear power plants means electricity prices won’t be coming down anytime soon —war or no war.

Add to that the fallout from the biggest hit the British economy has taken in 300 years, which was entirely due to Johnson’s decision to impose the lockdowns in 2020.

But above Johnson’s personal fate, the overriding fear that all Conservatives have is that they know their large majority is entirely due to Brexit.

Many people voted for them in 2019 because that was the only realistic way of getting the UK out of the EU, and they won’t have that leverage next time around.

Farage was even willing to sacrifice his own Brexit Party’s ambitions and stood his candidates down at the last election to enable the Conservatives to win enough seats to get Brexit through.

But that which Nigel giveth …

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Andrew Davies is a UK-based video producer and writer. His award-winning video on underage sex abuse helped Barnardos children’s charity change UK law, while his documentary “Batons, Bows and Bruises: A History of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,” ran for six years on the Sky Arts Channel.