Even if Boris Johnson survives this confidence vote, his premiership is far from safe

The letters come after months of Johnson being dogged by the so-called “Partygate” scandal and after he was booed in public during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Despite the obvious stress of facing a vote that could ultimately end his time in office, Johnson will to some extent be relieved for more than one reason.

First, the rebels who had been plotting in secret to get rid of him have finally been forced to show their hand. In order for him to lose the vote, 180 — 50% plus one — of Johnson’s Conservative MPs would need to vote against him.

That is a tall order. Any MP currently deemed to be on the government payroll is expected to support the government position, and it is obviously the position of Johnson’s government that he remain in power. There are thought to be around 180 MPs on the government payroll — among them ministers, parliamentary private secretaries and party vice chairs — though due to the murky arrangement of people who serve in non-public facing jobs it is hard to get an exact number.

Second, this is much earlier than many expected the vote to take place. The Conservatives are fighting two key by-elections later this month and however unpopular Johnson might be, using party resources on finding a replacement instead of campaigning in those seats is clearly far from ideal.

Third, none of his rivals are ready. There is no clear single candidate set up with political or financial backers to make the transition as smooth as possible. This would make any leadership contest a total mess, as the party is divided on ideological lines over multiple policy areas — including Brexit and economic policy.

For all these reasons, it is extremely likely that Johnson will survive the vote. That, however, does not mean his nightmare is over.

Clinging to power by his own MPs’ perceived cowardice will not turn around Johnson’s dire public approval ratings. It will make him a sitting duck for attacks from all sides of the political divide.

It is unlikely the rebels in his party will suddenly shut up. Conventionally, winning a confidence vote as Conservative leader means you are immune from another vote for 12 months. However, it is possible that these rules can be rewritten by the Conservative Party.

If the party seems to be moving in this direction, then Johnson could call a snap election to bolster his support among MPs. It would be a drastic, risky move, but it could be his only card left to play.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing