(CNN) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of confidence from members of his own party, but his margin of victory was smaller than his supporters had expected.
Despite a recent spate of criticism – including that of illegal Downing Street office parties violating the lockdown – Johnson won by 211 votes to 148 in a secret ballot on Monday.
The catch is that nearly half of his parliamentary party has not supported him, three years after he led the Conservative Party to a landslide victory in the last general election.
Voting began at 6 p.m. (1 p.m. Miami time) on Monday, after Johnson urged Conservative lawmakers to support him and reminded them that he had led the party to its biggest electoral victory in 40 years, according to a letter he wrote. The media.
But a narrow victory would discredit Johnson, even if he did not bring down his government. The Conservatives face a tough by-election at the end of June, after two of their MPs were forced to resign amid their own scandals. Disappointing results in that election may add to the pressure on Johnson ahead of a national general election scheduled for 2024.
Despite the win, the opposition Labor Party said that by clinging to power this time, Johnson is making the prospect of an early election more likely. Labor leader Keir Starmer told LBC on Monday that Monday’s vote would mark the “beginning of the end” in the prime minister’s political career regardless of the outcome.
“If you look at past examples of a vote of no-confidence, even when Conservative prime ministers survive … the damage has already been done,” the opposition leader said on Monday. “They usually come down a reasonable speed after that.”
Boris Johnson scandals
Monday’s vote came after more than 54 lawmakers sent letters to the chair of the 1922 Conservative Party committee, following a wave of criticism over a series of scandals that have embroiled Johnson for months.
Last month, a damning report from a senior official described the party culture and socializing among Johnson’s staff during the Covid-19 lockdown, while millions of Britons were prevented from meeting friends and family.
The alleged “Partygate” scandal lowered his approval ratings and angered many of his supporters. But Johnson has also been criticized for his response to the cost crisis, as his party suffered heavy losses in local elections in May.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was the last serving British leader to face a vote of no confidence from her party. May narrowly survived that vote, which was called up amid months of chaos over her Brexit deal, but she eventually quit months later.
Prime Minister’s reaction
In an interview shortly after the vote, Boris Johnson said: “I think it’s a very good outcome for politics and for the country.”
“I think it’s a compelling result, and it’s a watershed outcome, and what it means is that we as a government can move forward and focus on the things that really matter to people,” Johnson said. “I am grateful to the colleagues and appreciate the support they have given me.”
CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite, Richard Green, Lauren Kent, and Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.