British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a fight for his job earlier than expected Monday after rebels in his ruling Conservative Party secured enough support for an immediate no-confidence vote.
But despite surging polls for the opposition Labor Party and the still-unfolding political damage from Mr. Johnson’s “Partygate” scandals, British political observers say it appears the colorful prime minister has enough support to put down the rebellion and ensure his post for at least another year.
Conservative Party official Graham Brady told reporters in London Monday that he had received letters calling for a no-confidence vote from at least 54 Conservative members of Parliament, 15% of the caucus and enough to trigger a leadership vote under party rules.
Despite his recent woes, Mr. Johnson said he welcomed the open challenge after a long period of private grumbling from some backbenchers over his leadership.
“Partygate,” as the British press has dubbed it, has been a particular drain, with Mr. Johnson acknowledging he and his staff held alcohol-fueled gatherings and parties at a time when the rest of the country was virtually shut down over COVID-19 lockdown rules in 2020.
“Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities,” the prime minister’s office said Monday in a statement.
Even some likely hopefuls to replace Mr. Johnson said Monday they would not back his ouster at this time, citing the need to address the economy, the war in Ukraine and other pressing crises.
“The Prime Minister has my 100% backing in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, one of the favorites to succeed Mr. Johnson, tweeted Monday.