What papers say about Tory vote on Johnson
My colleague Martin Farrer has a round-up of how the national papers are covering the no-confidence vote yesterday. The Daily Mail and the Daily Express have a pro-Johnson gloss on their splash coverage, but elsewhere the coverage is much more negative for No 10, and even the Daily Telegraph, Johnson’s former employer and a paper he values so much he used to call it his “real boss”, provides little comfort.
Rebels warn Johnson rules could be changed to allow another challenge
Rebel Conservatives have given Boris Johnson until the party conference to change direction or they warn rules could be altered to allow another challenge, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.
Raab urges rebels to respect result as former leader William Hague says PM should quit
Good morning. We like to think that elections and votes can resolve political disputes, and provide an element of closure. It is one of the reasons journalists cover them so intensely. But, of course, sometimes they don’t, and last night’s no-confidence ballot in Boris Johnson’s leadership is a classic example. Tory MPs hoped that, one way or another, it would terminate the crisis. Yet it hasn’t, and Johnson’s dysfunctional government psychodrama is back for another season.
Dominic Raab, justice secretary and deputy prime minister, was doing the interview round this morning and he urged Johnson’s opponents in the party to respect the result and move on. He told Sky News:
The prime minister won it with 59 per cent, that is actually more than he got in terms of support when he was elected leader of the Conservative party.
But we have had that vote now, I think it was the prerogative of those calling for it to have it, the Prime Minister won it clearly, he won it by 63 votes … and now the most important thing I think is to respect that result and to move forward.
Raab is a former foreign secretary. But another former foreign secretary, William Hague, who is also a former Tory leader, and someone who was in parliament when Margaret Thatcher and John Major were facing leadership challenges, has come to a different conclusion. In his column in the Times, Hague says that Johnson’s position is now untenable and that he should quit. He says:
While I never faced a vote of no confidence in my four years as opposition leader, I would have regarded my position as completely untenable if more than a third of my MPs had ever voted against me. John Major was entirely ready to resign in 1995 if he had not won the support of a very large majority of the party. If, with all the power of the party leadership, all the years of acquaintance with MPs, all the knowledge they have of your abilities and plans, you still cannot crush a vote of no confidence by a commanding margin, then not only is the writing on the wall but it is chiselled in stone and will not wash away …
No individual in politics matters more than the health of our democracy. That health depends on voters having faith in the integrity of leaders even if they disagree with them, respect for how government is conducted, and a competitive choice at a future election. The votes just cast show that a very large part of the Conservative party cannot see Johnson providing that.
Hague also argues that there are two sorts of rebellions against a party leader. Major and Theresa May both faced attempted coups by organised factions with an agenda. But the anti-Johnson campaign was “more disparate, less organised but more spontaneous”, triggered by the fact that many different groups in the party have lost faith in him. A rebellion of this sort brought down Iain Duncan Smith in 2003, Hague says. He goes on:
The nature of their revolt has an important bearing on what happens next. They are not a faction that has been seen off, or an alternative policy direction that has been defeated. They represent instead a widespread feeling, a collapse of faith, that almost certainly cannot be repaired or reversed. For Johnson, continuing to lead the party after such a revolt will prove to be unsustainable.
Hague says Johnson should accept that he can’t recover and resign.
While Johnson has survived the night, the damage done to his premiership is severe. Words have been said that cannot be retracted, reports published that cannot be erased, and votes have been cast that show a greater level of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived. Deep inside, he should recognise that, and turn his mind to getting out in a way that spares party and country such agonies and uncertainties.
I will be covering more reaction to last night’s vote throughout the day.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
10am: Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
12.30pm: Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, holds a Q&A at the Institute for Government thinktank.
After 12.30pm: MPs begin debating a Labour motion saying the government should implement in full Committee on Standards in Public Life proposals to beef up the ministerial code.
4.45pm: Sajid Javid, the health secretary, gives evidence to the Commons health committee about staffing in the NHS.
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