Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote yesterday. But, Doug Saunders writes, his days are numbered:
He survived the vote by 211 to 148, meaning he will return to 10 Downing St. on Tuesday knowing that only 59 per cent of his 359 MPs have confidence in him – and, given that more than 160 of those MPs are ministers and parliamentary secretaries, and therefore contractually required to support him, he will know that his political world is closing in on him.
That might seem like a familiar state of affairs for the perpetually disheveled former newspaper columnist, whose career since becoming Prime Minister in 2019 has often consisted of unlikely self-rescues. But this time, even many of the MPs who voted for him to remain admitted they see little future for him.
“I mean, we don’t have an alternative,” MP Kwasi Kwarteng, who serves as Secretary of State for Business in Mr. Johnson’s cabinet, said in a radio interview. “I think the idea that we spend three months or whatever it might be finding a new leader and all that, going through all of that beauty contest, is absurd.”
Johnson's margin of victory gave him no reason to celebrate:
Mr. Johnson survived on Monday night by a smaller margin than Ms. May or Ms. Thatcher had. And, unlike them, he has an indelible record of having broken the law and his own party’s rules of conduct, making him extremely vulnerable to an electorate that may have turned against his Brexit path and other policies.
The Conservatives eventually cast both ladies aside. And Johnson continues to spout conservative boilerplate:
What he reportedly offered his MPs in his closed-door defence speech on Monday night was more tax cuts and deregulation – the sort of right-wing wallpaper that is unlikely to inspire them on the campaign trail as they struggle to avoid mentioning a party leader that almost half of them have told to leave.
But the clock is ticking. Like George Armstrong Custer, Johnson has marched into a box canyon. And history remembers how that ended.
Image: Andrea Minatures