Saturday, December 3

What’s next for Boris Johnson? There are three possible scenarios | Politics


1) The rebels fall short. There is no confidence vote. Johnson escapes by the skin of his teeth

While the country has been celebrating the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, Boris Johnson has been desperately ringing round his MPs to try to ensure he can reach the milestone of a mere three years as prime minister.

Conservative MPs who want him out before then believe they are very close to the magic number of 54 letters (to 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady) needed to trigger a confidence vote.

But if Johnson survives this coming week without the threshold being passed, and then avoids a disastrous double loss in two byelections on 23 June, in Tiverton and Honiton, and Wakefield, he could survive without a confidence vote being triggered at all. He would be safe – at least until the next crisis comes around.

Likelihood In the balance, but on the unlikely side as the mood in the party is turning against him.

2) The rebels reach 54 letters this week, or after the byelections on 23 June. A confidence vote is called. Johnson wins and fights on

Most Tory MPs believe that a confidence vote is now more likely than not. The big question is when it happens. The vote could come this week. If it does, then Johnson has a good chance of winning (by gaining a majority of the 359 Tory MPs), in which case he can carry on as prime minister.

If the vote takes place after the 23 June byelections, however, and the Tories are hammered in both, MPs believe he would have a much harder struggle, as his newfound electoral toxicity would have been exposed. On the other hand, even amid the despair of double defeat, Johnson the escapologist could still secure a majority of Tory MPs because his colleagues can see no better leader on offer.

Another leadership challenge would not be allowed for a year. Johnson would limp on, though severely weakened.

Likelihood More likely than 1, but only just.

3) Johnson loses a confidence vote and is out. A party leadership election gets under way

If Johnson were to be subjected to a confidence vote either before 23 June or after, and then failed to persuade a majority of the 359 Tory MPs that he was the best person to lead the party into the next general election, he would be out. A leadership contest would get under way over the summer to find a new Tory leader and prime minister.

Likelihood It depends on how bad the byelection results are for the Tories. If they are very bad indeed, it becomes at least as likely as not.



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