Boris Johnson vows to 'focus on the stuff that matters to people' after winning bruising confidence vote

Boris Johnson vowed to fight on and “focus on the stuff that really matters to people” after winning a bruising confidence vote last night which saw him lose the support of more than 40 per cent of his MPs.

Overall, 148 on the Conservative benches said that they had no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership, compared to 211 who backed him.

When Theresa May faced a confidence vote in 2018 she secured the support of 63 per cent of her MPs – but was still forced out within six months.

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Mr Johnson saw 41 per cent of his MPs vote against him, a worse result than Mrs May.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaks after surviving an attempt by Tory MPs to oust him as party leader following a confidence vote in his leadershipPrime Minister Boris Johnson, speaks after surviving an attempt by Tory MPs to oust him as party leader following a confidence vote in his leadership
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaks after surviving an attempt by Tory MPs to oust him as party leader following a confidence vote in his leadership

Mr Johnson described the ballot as a “very good result”, but within half an hour of the result being announced, he was facing calls to consider his position from one Yorkshire Tory.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said that it was “regrettable” that he had voted against Mr Johnson this evening, but he no longer has “confidence in his ability to lead us through the challenges we face as a nation”.

Mr Study tweeted: “The scale of the vote against the Prime Minister this evening is clear evidence that he no longer enjoys the full-hearted confidence of the parliamentary party and should consider his position.”

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He added: “With a global cost of living crisis impacting family budgets and war returning to Europe, the public should not have to doubt the honesty or integrity of our Prime Minister and our Government’s focus should not be questioned.”

A number of Yorkshire MPs had made their voting intentions public throughout the day yesterday, with former Minister Andrew Jones among those backbenchers to reveal that Mr Johnson would not have his support.

He had said in a statement yesterday morning: “At the beginning of all the investigations into partygate I said ‘lawmakers can’t be law breakers’. I meant it and that is, in part, why I will not be supporting the Prime Minister in tonight’s confidence vote.”

However, other local Tory MPs came out in support of Mr Johnson, with his public backers including Andrea Jenkyns, Lia Nici, Alexander Stafford and Graham Stuart.

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Speaking to reporters in Downing Street following the ballot, Mr Johnson said: “I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country.”

He added it was “a convincing result, a decisive result, and what it means is that as a Government we can move on and focus on the stuff that I think really matters to people”.

He had made a last-ditch plea to his MPs to back him earlier in the afternoon, promising tax cuts in the future and pointing towards his previous election victories.

He also wrote to his benches asking for their support as “I know how much we can achieve together.”

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Dozens of ministers and MPs had pledged to support him. In what appeared to be a co-ordinated show of support, Cabinet ministers – including potential leadership contenders Liz Truss,

Rishi Sunak and Ben Wallace – declared their backing for Mr Johnson on social media throughout yesterday morning.

But with concern over the partygate scandal, economic policy, drifting opinion polls and Mr Johnson’s style of leadership, the Prime Minister faced a difficult task to persuade his doubters.

Attention will now turn to the two by-elections at the end of this month, in Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, and Wakefield in West Yorkshire.

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The contests will test the Conservative Party performance for the first time since the Sue Gray report was released, and will give some indication as to whether the party risks haemorrhaging votes to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with Sir Keir Starmer’s party eyeing up Wakefield, while Sir Ed Davey focuses on the Devon seat.

Shadow Work and Pensions Jonathan Ashworth had earlier said that the cost of living crisis is damaging Tory chances in the West Yorkshire seat.

Speaking outside Parliament, he said: “Boris Johnson’s failure to offer real help is coming up day after day on the doorstep in Wakefield.

“I never take voters for granted but we’re working damn hard for every vote – and I tell you something,

“I wouldn’t want to be a Tory councillor in Wakefield.”

The Leicester South MP argued that the government had “no plan” to deal with inflation or “massive” NHS waiting lists.

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