British PM Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote Monday called by rebel lawmakers from his ruling Conservative party who wanted to oust him as the leader, in part over allegations of drunken government parties held during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Johnson won the backing of 211 out of 359 Conservative lawmakers, more than the simple majority needed to remain in power, but still a significant rebellion of 148 MPs. With no clear front-runner to succeed him, most political observers had predicted he would defeat the challenge.
The vote is due to commence at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT), with a result expected at 9 p.m.
At least 54 Conservative members of parliament are required to formally request a confidence vote to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee for one to be triggered. The letters are confidential so only the chairman of the committee knows how many have been submitted.
The UK prime minister termed his confidence vote win as “decisive”.
The result sees the prime minister remain in office, but critics said the scale of the rebellion against him showed his authority had been weakened, with some calling on him to resign.
The votes received by Johnson are lower than the 63% secured by former Prime Minister Theresa May when she won a party confidence vote in 2018.
In his statement on Twitter, the British premier said: “We need to come together as a party and focus on what this government is doing to help people with the cost of living, to clear the COVID backlogs, and to make our streets safer”.
The 57-year-old became the first sitting premier found to have broken the law by holding parties during Covid lockdown at his official residence.
Johnson has repeatedly apologized for his conduct after an official report found both he and Downing Street officials broke stringent laws that his government made during the pandemic, holding alcohol-fuelled gatherings at the height of lockdowns.