Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a potentially contentious vote on the Partygate report released by the House of Commons Privileges Committee on Thursday. The debate and vote will occur on Monday, which happens to be Johnson’s 59th birthday. However, Johnson will not be present, as he has officially departed the House of Commons. Although some of his loyal supporters may express their backing for the former Prime Minister, it is unlikely to sway the vote. The Opposition and Boris haters in the Conservative Party may lead to a significant loss for Johnson. Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, who were loyal to him until the end, might choose to voice their support for Johnson in the House. The vote will also determine whether Johnson should lose his access to the Palace of Westminster. Still, his allies suggest that he might regain access if he successfully stands in another constituency.
The motion to be voted on is simply worded, “that this House approves the Fifth Report from the Committee of Privileges,” but the answer over which way to vote will be complicated for many Tory MPs. Mr Johnson is popular with many in the Conservative Party membership, so opposing him will be a headache with associations. The former Prime Minister’s lack of popularity with the rest of the electorate makes supporting him equally unappealing. A YouGov poll of 3,031 UK adults found that only 15% of those asked thought the recommended 90-day suspension for Mr Johnson was too harsh. The vote is likely to be free, meaning no one on the government benches will be told how to cast their ballots.
Impact on Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party
As the vote draws closer, many eyes will be on Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other government ministers. Downing Street has refused to comment on how the Prime Minister will vote when asked on Thursday evening. Penny Mordaunt, a Conservative leader in the House of Commons, advised all MPs to read the report, make their own judgments, and take the task that is their privilege seriously and soberly. She also noted that these are difficult matters for the House, and members should use their judgment to do what they believe is right.
The vote on the Partygate report is a significant event for the Conservative Party and Johnson’s reputation. It may be a blow to Sunak’s hopes of maintaining peace in the Tory civil war. With Johnson’s departure from the House of Commons and the vote’s outcome, the party will need to find a way to move forward and make changes to avoid tarnishing their reputation further. Members of the party must consider what they believe to be the right decision and act accordingly. Although the vote may not be a positive outcome for Johnson and his supporters, it is an opportunity for the Conservative Party to evaluate their actions and move forward with integrity.