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UK PM wins no-confidence vote but "wounded" by revolt, say experts

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for the House of Commons in London, Britain, May 12, 2021.(Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua)

The 148 Members of Parliament (MPs) who voted in a secret ballot that they had lost confidence in his leadership represented 41 percent of Conservative MPs.

LONDON, June 7 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have survived a grueling no-confidence vote but he has been "wounded" by the revolt in his own Conservative Party, casting doubt on his political future, experts told Xinhua.

Johnson vowed to carry on at 10 Downing Street after elected Conservative lawmakers voted on Monday by 211 to 148 to continue to have confidence in him.

The 148 Members of Parliament (MPs) who voted in a secret ballot that they had lost confidence in his leadership represented 41 percent of Conservative MPs.

"Boris Johnson won arithmetically, but he's lost politically because the size of his victory is small enough to cast considerable doubt on his capacity to stay in power," said Professor Iain Begg, a political expert at the London School of Economics and Political Science's (LSE) European Institute.

File photo taken on Jan. 12, 2022 shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) on a screen as he attends the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions in London, Britain.(Xinhua/Li Ying)

"He is clearly wounded, and it will continue to be to the advantage of the main opposition Labour Party to have an opponent who has 'lame duck' characteristics. The next three weeks until two forthcoming parliamentary by-elections may well be critical for him," Begg said.

Johnson has been dogged for months by "partygate" scandals involving him and his staff at Downing Street during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. He received a fine from the British police in April for attending one of the alcohol-fueled parties, making him the first sitting prime minister in the country's history to be penalized for breaking the law.

With Monday's win, Johnson will not face another no-confidence vote for a year under current Conservative Party rules. However, experts believe it does not mean the prime minister is totally safe for a year.

"If other mechanisms, such as a majority of the cabinet, come together to say to him, it's time for you to go, as they did with Margaret Thatcher, that's how things might change," Begg said.

Though the Conservatives, for now, do not have a single leader in waiting who might be thought of as the immediate successor, Begg doubts Johnson can ever resist a build-up of political forces that say "It's time to go."

"The outcome will do nothing to improve the position of the Conservatives in the opinion polls and the Conservatives look set to lose one, and perhaps both, of the two parliamentary by-elections taking place on June 23," said Professor Stuart Wilks-Heeg, a political expert at the University of Liverpool.

"The pressure on Johnson is only going to intensify in the months ahead. This is the start of the end for him," Wilks-Heeg added.

Associate Professor Mark Shanahan from the University of Reading told Xinhua: "Boris Johnson is now very much in the corridor of uncertainty. The vote last night did not enable him to stamp his authority on the party. And what was most interesting is we suspect that the opposition came from all wings of the party."

People dine outside at Covent Garden in London, Britain, Jan. 19, 2022. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

"He is probably finished in terms of whether he will lead the Conservative Party into the next election, but this may be a slow death by a thousand cuts," Shanahan added.