Boris Johnson survived the vote of no confidence. Can he cling to power? The verdict of our panel | Polly Toynbee, Bob Neill, David Lammy, Devi Sridhar, Ed Davey, Dawn Butler and Zubaida Haque

Polly Toynbee: Boris Johnson will now be on the run to boo

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They will get their money’s worth, those 211 cowardly, crawling, ushering MPs who clung to their grotesquely unfit leader. The public’s decision is made.

But the incorrigible hits on it, hits everything that gets in his way. “Getting to work” means grabbing anything to appease Boris Johnson’s wildly divergent rebels, ranging from outspoken right-wingers like Steve Baker to upright constitutionalists such as Jesse Norman, shocked by deportations from Rwanda, the breakdown of Northern Ireland protocol and a stripped-down ministerial code. This week, Johnson will promise a 70% bribe to housing association tenants, selling the remaining social housing. Yesterday he wooed MPs with impending tax cuts, not to mention our abandoned public services.

To survive? He’ll be on the run from now on, never daring to meet unchecked voters lest someone tell him a mother died alone while he lied about partying and throwing up inside No 10. ‘I would do it again,’ the ‘humbled’ man told MPs last night.

Today’s Mail splash features a red button, warning “148 Tory MPs pressed the self-destruct button as they opened the door to Starmer’s mayhem coalition with a smirk: Lib Dem, Labour, SNP. ” Starmer isn’t smiling, he’s too stuck up. But yes, of course, this is Labour’s ideal outcome – a directionless and despised PM clinging on, shamed and lame, zigzagging wildly all over the place.

Bob Neill: Prime Minister should step down

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You don’t have to be as passionate a classicist as the Prime Minister to know that his victory in yesterday’s vote of confidence resembles those of the same name by Pyrrhus of Epirus. Yes, he survived, but the facts speak for themselves: the toll is worse than those inflicted on Thatcher, Major and May. In total, 41% of the parliamentary party voted against him. Take out those with government jobs and that’s 75% of Conservative backbenchers.

Recent events have considerably and, I believe, irrevocably damaged confidence in the Prime Minister. There are extremely difficult decisions to be made over the next few months, at home and abroad, and we must take the country with us on this. If we want to do that, the public must have confidence in the government. I don’t see how that’s possible as long as Boris Johnson remains at the helm.

The Prime Minister says we need to refocus on the challenges ahead and move forward, but that can only be done if the public trusts the government. Last night’s vote shows that a considerable number of MPs are unconvinced that Johnson is capable of rebuilding this. It gives me no pleasure to say it, but in the interests of the country and the party, he should step down.

David Lammy: Every day Johnson will sputter to wreak new havoc

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There is no going back for a Prime Minister who has lost the trust of almost half of his own MPs. Every day Johnson sputters will wreak further havoc on the British public and on the UK’s standing abroad. It should be fixed with laser-like precision on sky-high energy bills, runaway inflation and Putin’s illegal war in Europe.

Instead, the Prime Minister’s attention will now be on the few dozen MPs who voted in favor of his lie and his breaking of the law. Every decision Johnson makes in his final days will be about what jobs and trinkets to offer those MPs to keep them on his side.

We need to get Britain back on track. Not only with a new leader, but a new government. Only the Labor Party has a plan to restore confidence in politics, to grow the economy so we can pay for the schools and hospitals we desperately need, to restore Britain’s reputation abroad and to rebuild the alliances that Johnson damaged.

Devi Sridhar: He will face judgment for his failure to lead on Covid

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Politician after politician has had to take responsibility for his response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the exception of Boris Johnson. Former US President Donald Trump’s appalling response and deliberately spreading false information on Twitter has been seen as one of the factors responsible for his November 2020 loss to Joe Biden. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf said his country had “failed” to save lives given the large death toll compared to neighboring countries. And former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga resigned after publicly criticizing his response to Covid-19.

Yet despite Britain having one of the highest death rates in the world in 2020 and a Prime Minister who downplayed the disease at every turn, Johnson survived time and time again. Johnson had serious Covid very early.

But instead of taking the disease seriously and supporting NHS staff, he instead pushed the country to ‘move on’, almost as if we were to forget what really happened. Imagine the NHS having enough staff, resources and investment to provide the same quality of care Johnson received for everyone. How many lives could have been saved? Imagine if he had taken Covid seriously from the start, how many tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented? The answers to these two questions alone point to a failure to lead and protect the British public during a major emergency – the first job of any head of state. A judgment will come, but it is not today.

Ed Davey: Tory MPs now fully responsible for Johnson’s behavior

Photo by Ed Davey

After months of defending the indefensible, Tory MPs have had a golden opportunity to finally end Boris Johnson’s sad tenure. Instead, they doubled down, narrowly choosing to put a lying offender’s career ahead of the good of the country.

The scenes leading up to yesterday’s no-confidence vote made it clear that the Tories are headed for a civil war as this hopelessly weak Prime Minister tries to cling to his job. It will mean a summer of discontent for the rest of us. For Johnson, the cost of living crisis and spiraling NHS waiting times are just guarantees. Its whole purpose is self-preservation. His selfishness is hurting our economy and hurting families across the country.

Despite the softness of most Tory MPs last night, what is clear beyond recognition is that the British people have lost faith in Johnson. They recognize that he is not suitable for a position. So why can’t Conservative MPs? The Liberal Democrats are fighting this Conservative government in seats across the country. The people of Tiverton and Honiton will speak for Britain in delivering their verdict on Boris Johnson in two weeks – the Conservative Party will have no choice but to listen.

Dawn Butler: Johnson’s arrogance permeates the whole party

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Last July I was kicked out of the House of Commons for calling Boris Johnson a liar – a view shared by the majority of people. Last night Tory MPs voted for a serial liar to hold the country’s most prestigious job. The 359 Conservative MPs all voted, many by Proxy. Yet when MPs pleaded with House Conservative leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to allow MPs with long-term health conditions to vote by proxy earlier this year, we were told ‘no’.

As an MP recovering from cancer treatment, I must have missed dozens of critical votes over the past few months. Like other colleagues on the other side of the House. I was allowed to be paired with a curator, but I was not allowed to have a proxy vote or vote remotely, even though we have the technology to allow it. Johnson is emblematic of conservative arrogance and self-serving exceptionalism.

Calling Johnson out or impeaching him as leader is not enough. Last year, I launched a campaign to strengthen the ministerial code, to give the standards commission the responsibility to decide whether alleged breaches took place, rather than a prime minister. I only need three more Conservative MPs to get the debate granted. Johnson could leave soon, but the problem is deeply rooted in a party that believes that’s still one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

Zubaida Haque: What does the conservative party stand for now?

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Of course, it was inevitable. The one surprising thing about the no-confidence vote against Boris Johnson is that it didn’t happen sooner. Since the start of his term as Prime Minister, Johnson has been a threat to the functioning of democracy in this country and to the rule of law; he has repeatedly failed to protect vulnerable groups in times of national crisis, but there have been no consequences for this prime minister.

We’ll hear Johnson’s supporters say he now has “a mandate to continue.” But it’s not a resounding victory when 148 of your own MPs say they don’t trust you as a leader. A Prime Minister who does not tell the truth matters to some.

It is clear that trust and truth in politics is not a priority for everyone: 211 Tory MPs said they have confidence in Boris Johnson. I don’t know if this tells us more about how Number 10 is run or the state of the Conservative Party, but whichever way you look at it, it’s a disastrous reflection of this government.

Will there be a moment of introspection within the Conservative Party? There is certainly a huge gap between them and us. We have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic; we live with 195,000 Covid deaths and 2million people with long Covid – yet we have a deaf PM who says he would ‘do it again’ when asked about parties during lockdown at No 10 .

When ministers tire of defending the indefensible, they may want to reflect on what the Conservative Party stands for now. A crisis descends on the country. Tens of thousands of households are being pushed into food banks and poverty. Yet the only thing that seems to concern the party in government is the preservation of a lie leader who squandered public trust. Are these the priorities of the Conservative Party right now?

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