The PM believes that securing the confidence vote ‘draws a line’ under Partygate, but Hague thinks otherwise.
Despite still facing a Commons investigation into whether he lied to Parliament on Partygate, Boris Johnson claimed his narrow confidence vote victory allowed the government to “put a line under the issues that our opponents want to talk about.”
Hundreds of Tory backbenchers upset with his handling of the incident that eventually saw him punished by police provoked the confidence vote, which he won with just 59 percent of the vote.
When speaking to media after scraping to victory on Monday night, the PM declared his victory was “decisive,” but detractors quickly pointed out that he won with a lower majority than Theresa May in 2018.
Former Conservative leader William Hague believes Mr Johnson should “focus his attention to getting out” of Downing Street since his predecessor was forced to resign just six months after winning 63 percent of the vote.
“While Johnson has survived the night,” Lord Hague wrote in The Times, “the damage done to his leadership is grave.”
“Words have been spoken that cannot be taken back, reports have been published that cannot be undone, and votes have been cast that reflect a level of rejection that no Tory leader has ever experienced or survived.”
“He should recognize that deep inside, and focus on going out in a way that saves the party and country such anguish and uncertainty.”
What is Boris Johnson’s reaction to the election results?
“I think it’s an extraordinarily good, positive, conclusive, definite conclusion,” the PM told reporters in Downing Street. “It enables us to go on, to unite, and to focus on delivery, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”
He denied that he was now a lame duck prime minister who needed to call a snap election to get a new mandate from the people, saying that he was focused on what the people wanted.
On Tuesday morning, he praised his Cabinet for ensuring his win in the confidence vote.
“It was a crucial day because we can now put a stop to the topics that our opponents want to discuss and focus on the issues that I believe the people want… and what we’re doing to help them and move the country ahead.
“That is exactly what we will do. We’re going to concentrate solely on it.”
Is he safe, then? What’s ahead for the Prime Minister?
Before the prime minister can truly put an end to the turbulence of the previous few months, he must overcome a number of obstacles.
There are two by-elections in two weeks – on June 23 – that might be extremely damaging to the PM if the Conservatives lose, as many predict.
One is a Tory safe seat, while the other was won by the Conservatives for the first election in 89 years in 2019.
If he loses both, it will signify a significant shift in public sentiment since the Prime Minister’s resounding victory less than 3 years ago.
Vote of no confidence in the government
After Mr Johnson survived the Tory process, the Liberal Democrats are pushing for a confidence vote in the Prime Minister as a whole in the Commons.
“Every Conservative MP with a shred of decency must vote our resolution and finally give Johnson the sack,” Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said.
All MPs in the Commons would vote on the resolution, and if the government lost, it would be forced to call a snap election.
The move has no set date, and it is unlikely to succeed since the Conservative majority does not want to face an election when public opinion appears to be against them.
An investigation by the Privileges Committee could result in the PM’s expulsion from Parliament.
Mr Johnson is being probed by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, which will determine whether his comments in the Commons that Covid rules were always followed in government constituted contempt of Parliament.
Opposition MPs allege that police penalties handed to him and dozens of his staff illustrate that his guarantees were false, but the PM claims that he was unaware of the offenses when speaking in Parliament.
Anyone in government found to have willfully deceived MPs is “expected to leave,” according to the ministerial code, which has been signed by the Prime Minister.
The Privileges Committee has the authority to recommend a variety of penalties for contempt of parliament, including imprisonment or a fine, but this hasn’t happened in well over a century.
However, the Privileges Committee may suggest certain harsh penalties.
If it takes a harsh enough view of Mr Johnson’s behavior, it could recommend that he be suspended or perhaps expelled from Parliament.
If he is ejected from Parliament, he will no longer be a member of Parliament, but he will not be barred from standing for office again.
If he is suspended for more than two weeks, a recall petition will be filed against him, and he will have to defend his position in a by-election.
If 10% of his constituency backs a recall petition it would trigger a by-election.
However, all of this is unlikely because Mr Johnson’s Commons majority is likely to block any investigation and even if they approved it, MPs would be required to agree on any proposed sanctions.
The Privileges Committee is not expected to report its conclusions to the House until the autumn.
Could Tory MPs force another confidence vote?
Under current Tory party rules he is safe from another confidence vote for a further year, however the 1922 Committee of backbencher Conservatives has the power to change those rules.