For the first time since surviving a vote of no confidence on Monday which left him severely weakened, the leader faced MPs during a rowdy weekly question session but where he seemed – at least temporarily – to have rallied his troops in the face of attacks from the Labor opposition.
Reinvigorated and pugnacious, he defended his government’s record tooth and nail against Labor leader Keir Starmer, who repeatedly accused the “incompetent” government of having amplified the crisis in the public health service (NHS ), faced with chronic understaffing and very long waiting lists.
“We have the lowest unemployment rate since 1974 and we will continue to grow our economy in the long term”, he launched, before a speech expected this week where he could announce new measures in the face of the outbreak. the cost of living which is strangling the British.
He pledged to create “well-paying, highly-skilled jobs” across the country. “And as far as jobs go, I’m going to pursue mine,” he insisted.
– Tax reduction –
Even if he cannot be targeted by another motion of no confidence for a year, Boris Johnson sees his authority undermined by the scale of the sling, and he now has the delicate mission of once again seducing his troops and his electorate.
More than four in ten MPs from his camp (148 out of the 359 voting) voted to oust him because of “partygate”, these parties in Downing Street during the anti-Covid confinements which earned him a fine – a first for an incumbent Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
“No prime minister I’ve known in the past has had the confidence of 100% of his MPs,” health minister Sajid Javid, a stalwart, commented on Sky News.
But bringing together a very divided party promises to be difficult, and the risk is high that disgruntled MPs will obstruct future government action.
“I hope what Johnson avoids now is deciding on a series of populist measures which are designed in the hope of bolstering our immediate popularity,” MP David Davis, who has since voiced several months his dissatisfaction with the head of government.
Boris Johnson is under strong pressure from elected Conservatives to deploy an economic policy more in line with Conservative values, namely a tax cut against the controversial increase in social security contributions decided by the government or the tax announced on profits of the oil giants.
A concession that the government is willing to consider, according to Sajid Javid, recalling however the weight of the pandemic on public finances.
– Parliamentary inquiry –
If he succeeded on Wednesday in escaping internal attacks from the Conservative benches on Wednesday, Boris Johnson has not finished with the repercussions of “partygate”.
After those of the police and senior civil servant Sue Gray, another investigation, this time parliamentary, is planned. If the latter concludes, a priori in the fall, that he deceived the House of Commons by claiming not to have broken the rules, he is supposed to resign.
Two by-elections on June 23 will also have test value for the conservative leader who rules out the possibility of early legislative elections, with the elections to be held in 2024.
Some Tory MPs like Tobias Ellwood only give him “a few months”. Several names are circulating of possible candidates for his succession, but none really emerges, enough to make some elected officials hesitate, tempted to oust the head of government.