Why Winning A 'No Confidence' Vote Doesn't Mean Boris Johnson Is Safe
Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Why Winning A 'No Confidence' Vote Doesn't Mean Boris Johnson Is Safe

Rachael Grealish June 7, 2022

Boris Johnson has won the ‘no confidence vote set by his own ministers, but that doesn’t mean the Prime Minister is safe.

Yesterday, June 6, Johnson won the confidence vote of his leadership by 211 to 148 and has now ‘vowed‘ to continue ‘delivering on what matters to the British public’, but this doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods yet.

Why was there a ‘no confidence’ vote?

When the ‘Sue Gray Report’ was released it was commented by Gray there were ‘failures of leadership’ following the lengthy investigation into the numerous parties and gatherings that took place at Number 10 during the COVID pandemic.

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Image from Sue Gray Report of the Prime Minister’s birthday

The PM was ultimately fined for attending a party after telling the House of Commons there had been no parties, nor had he attended any. Since then he did apologise for the parties and attending one.

However, not everyone was convinced Johnson should be the one to lead the country or his party as over 15% of MPs submitted a letter of ‘no confidence’ in the PM to the 1922 Committee and therefore a vote was triggered.

What happened in the vote?

The vote was simple the Conservative MPs voted, anonymously, to say whether they think Johnson should stay in the role.

There are 359 Tory MPs meaning Johnson needed at least 180 votes to keep him in the role. Ultimately, 59%, 211 MPs voted to keep Johnson in the role – but there were 148 that thought it was time for him to step aside. This was a 63 majority for the PM.

Now the PM has vowed to his Cabinet to ‘continue delivering on what matters to the British people’ and thanked those that supported him.

As the PM won the vote this means another ‘no confidence’ vote can’t be triggered for at least 12 months, but does that mean Johnson is safe? Not necessarily.

PMs that weren’t safe after the vote

Despite his win ousting of winning Conservative ministers is actually pretty common, especially when you look at past PMs that didn’t last long.

Back in November 1990 Margaret Thatcher actually resigned just several days after surviving the first round of the leadership challenge put against her. At that time she actually secured 204 votes to Michael Heseltine’s 152, but as she was unable to get the 15% margin needed she would’ve needed a second ballot and chose not to go down that route. And she quit.

Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images

Then her successor, John Major, actually triggered the equivalent of a ‘no confidence’ vote in himself back in 1995 – five years after he became PM and three years after he won a General Election – although he won he went on to lose the General Election in 1997 against Labour’s Tony Blair.

Most recently, Theresa May won her ‘no confidence’ vote with a huge majority back in 2018 – just before Johnson came in to power.

May had 317 Conservative MPs meaning she needed at least 159 to win a majority. When the result came in 200 MPs (63%) voted to keep her and 117 (37%) voted against. This was a majority of 83 – much larger than Johnson got yesterday.

Although, this doesn’t mean Johnson will resign in the coming months, but a win doesn’t necessarily mean he’s safe.

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Rachael is the Senior Content Editor at Freshered. She is NCTJ qualified with an MA in journalism. Rachael has almost ten years experience as a journalist in regional, national and international press and is passionate about creating engaging content.