DC Edit | Despite trust vote win, UK PM loses authority

The people never forgave him for it as he was the architect of strict Covid protocols

Boris Johnson is to stay on as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after winning a vote of confidence from a majority of his Conservative party MPs. He survived the Tory leadership battle with 41 per cent of Tory MPs voting against him. His 211-148 victory means that less than a third of the House of Commons supports him now, which is bound to tell in the rest of his term when he may face resistance to any legislation he hopes to bring in.

It may not be Boris’ style to be a lame duck because what made him Prime Minister in the first place was his personality and his Brexit promise more than his policies. He cannot be challenged within his party for at least a year and that should give him a bit of leeway in deciding whether to call for early polls. The forecast, however, is that if he stays on as the Tory leader, the chances of the Conservatives to win the next general election would take a severe beating.

The backlash against his rule was not only among his party MPs. The people booed him at the thanksgiving service for the monarch’s 70 years on the throne and those who did were mostly traditionalists and likely Tory voters. His plunging ratings symbolises his failure as taxes rose during his rule, contrary to the low tax regime he had promised.

The cost-of-living crisis that the UK public feel by the day in rising food and fuel costs may not be his or his Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s doing as they seemed to negotiate the pandemic fairly well with regard to the economy with generous handouts to keep businesses afloat.

What happened as the economic headwinds gathered force through runaway inflation may have tested anyone in power but the issues got conflated with the “partygate” scandal that made the Prime Minister look like a gallivanting villain toasting with wine in Downing Street parties while the public suffered a rigorous lockdown, lost jobs and struggled to educate children at home. The people never forgave him for it as he was the architect of strict Covid protocols.

A highly critical report after a fair investigation into the partying ways of the highest in their land laid bare the callousness with which Covid rules were being broken even as people were being prevented from attending the funerals of near and dear while hugs were banned among the living. As lockdown blues were compounded by power bills that kept rising beyond shocking levels and taxes rose despite all of Sunak’s juggling, Boris and his wingman lost their popularity.

History is also stacked against Boris. Prime Ministers John Major, in 1995, and Theresa May, in 2018, won confidence votes with bigger numbers but Major was crushed in the succeeding election and May lost power six months after the trust vote thanks to Brexit complications. And not even the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher could fight off Michael Heseltine’s challenge from within her party.

Boris can claim victory in the trust vote but it’s already clear that he has been robbed of most of his authority.

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