Johnson Faces UK Parliament For First Time Since No-Confidence Vote

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he chairs a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, on June 7, 2022.  AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a boisterous parliament Wednesday in his first appearance before lawmakers since narrowly fending off a damaging no-confidence vote from his own Conservative MPs.

His backers are likely to stage a noisy show of support when he steps up for his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions.

Critics, however, have warned the political crisis is not over for the embattled prime minister after more than 40 percent of his own MPs voted against him in Monday’s no-confidence vote.

Johnson, who called the 211-148 vote a “convincing result”, has vowed to plough on, saying it was time to “draw a line” under questions about his leadership and the “Partygate” controversy over lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street.

READ ALSO: UK PM Boris Johnson Wins No-Confidence Vote, Escapes Sack

The prime minister’s team has tried to regain the offensive by pointing to a setpiece speech expected in the coming days on new economic support measures, as Britons struggle with a cost-of-living crisis.

But many questions whether Johnson can recover voters’ trust, as the party braces for two Westminster by-elections this month and an upcoming investigation by MPs into whether he lied to parliament over “Partygate”.

Even without any obvious candidate to succeed him, former Tory party leader William Hague this week argued that Johnson should now “look for an honourable exit”.

Comparing Monday’s margin to votes that ultimately toppled Johnson’s predecessors Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, Hague said it showed “a greater level of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived”.

“Deep inside, he should recognise that, and turn his mind to getting out in a way that spares party and country such agonies and uncertainties,” Hague wrote in The Times.

 ‘War of attrition’

The Guardian reported Wednesday that rebel Conservative MPs were drawing up plans for “vote strikes” to paralyse the government’s legislative agenda, as happened at the end of May’s stint in office.

The I newspaper also said the prime minister now faces a “war of attrition”, with the rebels pushing to remove him despite his narrow victory in the no-confidence vote.

Johnson, 57, needed the backing of 180 of the 359 Conservatives MPs to survive the vote.

Most of Johnson’s cabinet publicly backed him in the secret ballot. But more than 40 percent of the parliamentary party did not.

The scale of the revolt “constitutes a crisis for Downing Street”, King’s College London politics professor Anand Menon said.

“I think there’s very little doubt that the vulnerability of the prime minister is going to be the single greatest factor shaping what this government does for the foreseeable future,” Menon told AFP.

Under current Tory rules, the prime minister cannot be challenged again for a year, which leaves little time for any new leader to emerge before the next general election due by 2024.

But the party’s “1922 committee” of MPs, tasked with overseeing leadership challenges, says it could easily change the rules if a majority backs it.

The Liberal Democrats are now pushing for a parliamentary no-confidence vote after Johnson survived the Tory revolt.

“Liberal Democrats are tabling a motion of no confidence in the prime minister so Parliament can finally put an end to this sorry mess,” party leader Ed Davey said.

“Every Conservative MP with a shred of decency must back our motion and give Boris Johnson the sack.”

If the government lost a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons it would have to call a snap general election.

That appears unlikely at present given the Conservative majority, but Johnson could face a challenging period in the months ahead.

Senior backbencher Tobias Ellwood, who voted against Johnson, said the prime minister was living on borrowed time.

“I think we’re talking a matter of months, up to party conference (in October),” he told Sky News.

AFP

Boris Johnson Challenges Opposition To Call Confidence Vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Leaders for Nature and People event during the Climate Action Summit 2019 in the United Nations General Assembly Hall September 23, 2019.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday challenged opposition parties to call a vote of no confidence in his government, telling them in parliament: “what are they scared of?”

As he faced MPs for the first time since the Supreme Court quashed his suspension of parliament, Johnson asked: “Will they have the courage to act?… Come on, then.”

AFP

Spain PM Loses First Parliament Vote To Remain In Power

Spain PM Pedro Sanchez                                                                PHOTO: Emilio Naranjo / POOL / AFP

 

Spanish caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez lost a first parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday as he seeks to remain in power after an inconclusive general election.

A total of 124 lawmakers in the 350-seat parliament voted for the Socialist premier, leaving him well short of the absolute majority he needed.

Another 170 MPs voted against and 52 abstained. Four remaining votes belong to suspended lawmakers.

READ ALSO: China Calls US Sanctions On Oil Trader ‘Illegal’

A second, decisive vote has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon, before which Sanchez needs to reach a coalition deal with far-left Podemos, a party that was once arch-rival.

Sanchez is currently caretaker premier after coming first in the April general election but without the majority he needed with just 123 seats, forcing him to look for support.

If he manages to form a coalition government, it would be the first in post-dictatorship Spain.

In debates on Monday and Tuesday ahead of obligatory post-election parliamentary votes this week, Podemos and regional parties that could back Sanchez accused him of not reaching out to possible allies despite needing their help.

‘Playing poker’ 

The second vote on Thursday requires only a simple majority.

With the support of far-left Podemos’s 42 lawmakers and a few others from small regional parties, he could get through.

But given the anger of these potential allies, that support looks uncertain.

Sanchez’s Socialist party has been locked negotiations with Podemos for months and only recently reluctantly agreed to form a coalition government with the party.

But Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias angrily lashed out at Sanchez in the parliamentary debate on Monday.

He accused the socialists of refusing to give his party positions that carry any kind of weight and wanting them to be “a mere decor” in the government.

In Tuesday’s vote, Podemos lawmakers abstained.

Catalan separatist party ERC, meanwhile, accused Sanchez of being “irresponsible” for not appearing to want to negotiate with anyone.

He also slammed him for not having mentioned the separatist crisis in Catalonia in his Monday speech to parliament.

ERC had previously said it would not stand in Sanchez’s way despite their differences over how to handle the crisis.

But Gabriel Rufian, ERC’s leader in parliament, said: “the feeling was that you are playing poker with the hopes of hundreds of thousands of people who came out to vote on April 28.”

ERC voted against Sanchez Tuesday.

Aitor Esteban of the PNV Basque nationalist party said the socialists had not even been in touch with them in the past few weeks.

“They have taken for granted that our vote was going to be positive,” he said.

“You’re the one who should be looking for alliances,” he told Sanchez. His party also abstained in Tuesday’s vote.

If Sanchez cannot secure the votes he needs, he has another two months to find a solution, failing which the Spanish will face another general election.

“What we are seeing in Spanish politics is effectively the natural tensions that occur as a political system transitions from an old way of operating (single-party governments) to what appears to be the new normal…(coalition governments),” said Alfonso Velasco, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“Spain might need another election for politicians to accept the new reality.”

AFP

44 Political Parties Pass Vote Of Confidence On Igini

INEC REC in Akwa-Ibom, Mike Igini

 

Forty-four political parties in Akwa Ibom state have passed a vote of confidence on Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Mike Igini.

The parties under the aegis of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) described Igini as a man of integrity who has continued to stand upright in the face of provocations, intimidation, and inducement.

In a statement by IPAC’s legal adviser, Mr. Mfon Peters, the political parties alleged that several attempts were made to lure the REC against the will of the people during the presidential and senatorial elections.

They, however, praised Igini, stressing that the REC “chose his integrity instead”.

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“We have noticed that after the Presidential and National Assembly elections in our State, the ‘Igini Must Go’ assemblage which had receded has been rekindled. The reason is not far- fetched.

“We applaud the unbending noble character of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, in the test offered by the scenario that played out at Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District elections,” the statement read in part.

IPAC alleged that some politicians tried inducing Igini with lucrative monetary offers to compromise the elections in the state.

“Despite monetary inducement, connection, influence and power play, Igini was uncompromising. He insisted that only the valid votes cast at the polling units and collated by the designated officers will count.

“This did not go down well with some political gladiators who hitherto thought that what money cannot do, more money can do,” IPAC added.