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Boris Johnson leaves the Houses of Parliament after facing a no-confidence vote. (Photo: via Associated Press)
Boris Johnson insisted he had secured a “decisive” victory against Conservative MPs trying to oust him – despite the evidence suggesting otherwise.
In another sign of delusion at the top of the Tory party, one of the PM’s allies claimed Ukraine’s wartime president Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be “punching the air” at the “handsome” win in the confidence vote.
In reality, 148 of Johnson’s own MPs want him out.
Conservatives in parliament voted by 211 to 148 in support of the prime minister, but the scale of the revolt against his leadership leaves him wounded.
When Theresa May faced a confidence vote in 2018 she secured the support of 63% of her MPs but was still forced out within six months.
Johnson saw 41% of his MPs vote against him, a worse result than May.
The result is even worse if the so-called government “payroll” is stripped out.
These are the between 160 and 170 MPs who currently hold government roles, such as ministers and parliamentary private secretaries, according to analysis by the Institute for Government.
It would be hoped by Downing Street that all of these MPs would have backed Johnson in the confidence vote.
Remove the “payroll” vote - and look at the free vote from backbenchers. Almost 75% of all Tory MPs not dependent on his patronage voted against him. This is the end for Boris Johnson. The only question is how long the agony is prolonged. @RestIsPolitics
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 6, 2022
Were this the case, around 80% of the 211 MPs who voted for the prime minister in Monday’s ballot could be said to have done so chiefly out of duty rather than loyalty.
The rest of the 211 MPs who said they had confidence in Boris Johnson will have been backbench MPs who are not on the payroll.
But with as many as 170 payroll votes supporting the prime minister, the figures suggest only a few dozen non-payroll votes also voted in favour, implying that Johnson has lost the confidence of the majority of the Conservative backbenchers.
That's the worst result a sitting PM has ever had in a confidence vote by their own MPs.
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) June 6, 2022
More MPs voted against Thatcher - (152) but a higher % of the party's MPs voted against Johnson (41.2% to 40.9% - remarkably close).
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) June 6, 2022
Yet despite all this, the prime minister called it a “very good result”, telling broadcasters: “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”.
Asked how it compared to past confidence votes in Conservative prime ministers, he added: “I have got a far bigger mandate from my own parliamentary colleagues than I had in 2019.”
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 6, 2022
— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) June 6, 2022
It was Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, who contended the result would be welcomed in war-torn Ukraine.
He told Sky News: “What do you think President Zelenskyy will be thinking tonight? He’ll be punching the air because he knows his great ally Boris Johnson will be prime minister tomorrow morning. That’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Other loyalists trotted out the same lines – that it was a good result and it is time to move.
Clear win for @BorisJohnson in the confidence vote. Greater percentage than in his initial leadership competition, greater percentage that Starmer got in his leadership competition.
Now we must all get back to work on behalf of the people of the UK.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) June 6, 2022
Tonight the PM has secured a fresh mandate from the parliamentary party.
Now we need to unite and focus on the country’s challenges. Boosting economic growth, tackling the Covid backlogs, protecting our national security, and so much more.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) June 6, 2022
The person Starmer doesn’t want to face at an election is Boris Johnson who secured the biggest Conservative majority since 1987 and the highest share of the vote (43.6 per cent) of any party since 1979, with 14 million votes. Time to get back to the job of governing.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) June 6, 2022
Johnson rejected the assertion that he was now a lame duck prime minister who needed to call a snap election to secure a new mandate from the public, insisting he was focused on the public’s priorities.
The scale of the revolt against Johnson’s leadership has left him vulnerable, and he could suffer further blows in two key by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton on June 23.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.