Jun 7, 2022
Boris Johnson survives leadership vote 6/06/22 Transcript
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership but failed to win the backing of a large number of his own members of Parliament. Read the transcript here.
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Hugh Edwards: (00:00)
Boris Johnson is still in office as Prime Minister, despite the significant rebellion among conservative MPs in tonight’s vote of confidence. The result was declared barely an hour ago, and the scale of Mr. Johnson’s victory by some 63 votes was described by Downing Street as decisive, that was their word, but was said by rebels to be a clear sign that Mr. Johnson’s days as leader were numbered. Well under the current rules, Mr. Johnson can’t now face another challenge to his leadership for 12 months. So let’s take a look at the result. There were 211 conservative MPs declaring their confidence in the Prime Minister while 148 declared no confidence in their leader. Number 10 said the result was a renewal of the Prime Minister’s mandate. We have detail and reaction, but first our political editor Chris Mason brings the story of the vote and the result, which many people are seeing at Westminster as a substantial blow to the Prime Minister’s authority.
Chris Mason: (01:07)
After months of awkward questions for Boris Johnson, weeks of mounting speculation, and a day of intense, public, sometimes angry arguments, the moment, a verdict, the result with yes, the potential to remove Mr. Johnson as Prime Minister, but also shape his future in the job.
Sir Graham Brady: (01:28)
… that the vote in favor of having confidence in Boris Johnson’s theater was 211 votes, and a vote against was 148 votes, and therefore I can announce that the Parliamentary Party does have confidence.
Chris Mason: (01:46)
A mathematical victory for Boris Johnson, but boy, those numbers are awkward for him. More than 40% of his MPs labeling him a liability the country would be better off without, but he insisted…
Boris Johnson: (02:00)
I think it’s an extremely good, positive, conclusive, decisive result, which enables us to move on, to unite, and to focus on delivery, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.
Chris Mason: (02:14)
Westminster is now digesting the results. Those wanting Mr. Johnson out beaten tonight, but insisting they’re not defeated.
Sir Roger Gale: (02:23)
I think frankly, it’s very bad indeed. I was expecting that we might make three figures. I hadn’t expected a third, more than a third, of the Parliamentary Party expressing no confidence in the Prime Minister. That is severely damaging for him and his reputation.
Chris Mason: (02:39)
For the opposition parties today, a chance to stand back and watch their opponents in a mess.
Sir Keir Starmer: (02:45)
This evening, the conservative party had a decision to make, to show some backbone or to back Boris Johnson. The British public are fed up, fed up with a Prime Minister who promises big, but never delivers.
Chris Mason: (03:02)
The day began with Sir Graham Brady announcing that the moment some conservative MPs longed for and others desperately hoped to avoid had come.
Sir Graham Brady: (03:12)
The threshold of 15% of the Parliamentary Party seeking a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister has been passed. Therefore, a vote of confidence will take place within the rules of the 1922 Committee.
Chris Mason: (03:26)
Within moments, the public argument began, cabinet ministers offering their best spin on things.
Chris Mason: (03:32)
Do you accept that the bottom line is a vote of confidence is bad news for any leader?
Thérèse Coffey: (03:36)
I think that I’ve already said to some other broadcasters, it’s the privilege of any member of parliament to choose, to request a new leader. I don’t think that’s the right choice, but I’m not going to condemn people.
Chris Mason: (03:48)
How can the Prime Minister possibly recover from this?
Jacob Rees-Mogg: (03:51)
Well, by winning, and a one vote win is enough.
Chris Mason: (03:54)
Two cabinet ministers turning out together. What does that say? It suggests to me that you’re worried.
Brandon Lewis: (03:59)
Actually, I would say it suggests unity and strength actually. We’re both in the same position of supporting the Prime Minister. I think it’s the right thing for our country and our party to draw a line under this tonight and move forward and get back to focusing on the core issues that affect all of our constituents.
Suella Braverman: (04:13)
Yes. I echo what Brandon’s just said. I really urge my conservative colleagues in parliament to unite today.
Chris Mason: (04:21)
Supporters in the foreground, critics wanting to be heard too, as the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption champion, decided to resign.
John Penrose: (04:30)
Leadership and integrity are absolutely central to the ministerial code. They are baked into it. They run through it like a stick of rock-
Chris Mason: (04:35)
So the bottom line-
John Penrose: (04:36)
… and I’m afraid is that means he’s broken the ministerial code, and that means as a result that it’s a resignation matter for any minister. And it also has to be a resignation matter for me as well.
Chris Mason: (04:47)
And there was another junior resignation later. John Lamont stood down as a ministerial aid to the foreign secretary. Enter next a potential successor as Prime Minister. Jeremy Hunt’s took on Boris Johnson last time and lost. Today he tweeted, “We are no longer trusted…” “…change or lose. I’ll be voting for change,” and if you think that sounds blunt, listen to this response to it from the culture secretary.
Nadine Dorries: (05:14)
I’m incredibly disappointed that Jeremy Hunt, who said throughout I’m not going to challenge the Prime Minister while there’s a war in Ukraine has come out and challenged the Prime Minister on the day Russia sends rockets into Kyiv.
Chris Mason: (05:26)
A party rowing in public, a result some distance from definitive. The questions about Boris Johnson’s future won’t go away.
Hugh Edwards: (05:39)
Well, let’s go live to the Houses of Parliament just a stone’s throw away from here, and Chris is there. Let’s talk about the margin of Mr. Johnson’s victory Chris. Were you surprised by how relatively modest it was, and what does that mean?
Chris Mason: (05:55)
More importantly Hugh, those on the Prime Minister’s side were surprised. At lunchtime today, I talked to one minister, a loyalist as far as Boris Johnson is concerned, who didn’t think the numbers would be anywhere near where they ended up. They thought it might creep into three figures. They thought it might reach a third of the Parliamentary Party, around 120, not nearly 150, not more than four out of 10 conservative MPs concluding that they will be better off without Boris Johnson, and that means tonight this will not go away.
Chris Mason: (06:29)
These moments are always difficult for a party leader. The best they can hope is suppress the number as low as possible. That’s why we saw his supporters say a victory by one is a victory. They were managing that expectation, and so tonight they can say they did a lot better than that. But the key political question, rather than arithmetic, mathematical question, is where does this leave the Prime Minister? It leaves him in a situation where the rebels will think they can still dislodge him sooner rather than later. They will carry on making the arguments that the party would be better off without him. For now, Boris Johnson will take a deep breath. This whole conversation though will simply not go away.
Hugh Edwards: (07:13)
Chris, for now, many thanks. Chris Mason there for us at the Houses of Parliament with the latest analysis after the vote which came in just about an hour ago.