From 'grotesque' to 'handsome': MPs react to Boris Johnson surviving confidence vote

"We've had a vote and now we've got to come together and deliver for our country." Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis MP shares his thoughts on tonight's confidence vote with ITV News at Ten Presenter Tom Bradby.

From branding Boris Johnson's victory in a confidence vote over his leadership as "grotesque", to saying the prime minister won "handsomely", the reaction to the PM's survival from MPs has been mixed.

Earlier on Monday, Tory MPs voted by 211 to 148 (59% to 41%) to keep the prime minister in power, after 54 letters of no confidence in the leader triggered a vote.

But despite winning the vote, the scale of the revolt against Mr Johnson's leadership leaves him wounded.

Members of Mr Johnson's frontbench have been quick to welcome the news, including Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi who both sought to move the focus on.

Ms Dorries tweeted that it is “time to get back to the job of governing”, while Mr Zahawi told reporters that Mr Johnson won the vote “handsomely”.

Nadhim Zahawi said he hopes "we can draw a line under this now and focus on delivery".

Asked how he can call the result "handsome", Mr Zahawi said: “It’s a ballot. 50 plus one is a majority. Boris did much better than that.”

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.

Mr Johnson saw 41% of his MPs vote against him, a worse result than Mrs May who saw 37% of her party vote against her.

Education Secretary Mr Zahawi was also asked whether there will now be a Tory civil war. In response, he said that the party must be "united" to win the next election.

"People don’t vote for divided parties – that’s my message," Mr Zahawi said. "We’re democrats above everything else and I think you’ll find every colleague – even those who voted against the prime minister tonight – will agree with that statement.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have all tweeted their support for Boris Johnson.

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said the result of the confidence vote in Boris Johnson is a “lot better” than he had feared.

When told there were more votes against Mr Johnson than there were against Theresa May in 2019, Mr Fabricant said: “Theresa May then decided to do a deal with Labour to have a second referendum. That ain’t gonna happen, so there is no comparison.”

Other Conservative MPs chose to vote in favour of the prime minister, saying they believed it was in the best interests of the UK to do so.

David Duguid, Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “With our recovery from the pandemic and the global inflation pressures that have yet to hit us fully, I believe this is in the best interests of the country."

Tory MP Steve Brine said: "At the end of the day, colleagues have to decide not just whether he can get away with what's happened, but whether he should."

Mr Johnson's Labour counterpart, Sir Keir Starmer, tweeted that a “divided” Conservative Party is “propping up” Boris Johnson.

"The British public are fed up," the Labour leader said.

"Conservative MPs made their choice tonight. They have ignored the British public and hitched themselves and their party firmly to Boris Johnson and all he represents."

Sir Keir said that it is "grotesque" that the day after the nation celebrated the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, "the Conservative party [chose] to throw that sense of duty and those values on the bonfire."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said Boris Johnson is a “failing prime minister” who “cannot be propped up any longer”.

He tweeted: “Every Conservative MP who cares about integrity and decency must do the right thing, resign the whip and sit as an independent."

Amongst Mr Johnson's own ranks, some Tory MPs have expressed their disappointment at tonight's result.

Sir Roger Gale told reporters that he still thinks Boris Johnson should not take the party into the next election.

He highlighted that more than one-third of the party expressed no confidence in Mr Johnson, adding that MPs have “a job to do” and that he is “not one of those who believes in a vote strike”.

He said: “I don’t believe that he should take the party into the next general election and I think there are other elephant traps down the road – two by-elections coming up, the Privileges Committee report in the autumn – there are a lot of hurdles ahead and I think a prime minister of honour would look at the figures, accept the fact that he has lost the support of a significant proportion of his party and consider his position, but I don’t think he’ll do that.”

"I believe that an honourable man would now say 'I accept I've lost the confidence of a significant part of my party and I will allow a leadership election to go ahead'. That's what I'd like to happen, but it won't happen," Sir Roger Gale said.

Former Tory Foreign Secretary and party leader William Hague said that for Johnson, continuing to lead the party after such a revolt will be "unsustainable".

"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," he wrote in The Times.

Reacting to the outcome himself, the prime minister has described the results of a confidence vote in his leadership as a “very good result”.

“I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country," he said in a statement.

He said 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”.

“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 are going to do,” he said.

He ruled out a snap election in order to gain a new mandate from the public, insisting he was focused on the public’s priorities.

“I see no point in focusing on anything else and I’m certainly not interested in snap elections. What I’m interested in is delivering right now for the people of this country,” he said.

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