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Pyrrhic victory: How long Johnson will be able to hold prime minister post and what Kyiv should prepare for

Boris Johnson was able to overcome a vote of no confidence in the British House of Commons and for at least another year, if he himself does not resign or the terms for initiating votes are not changed, he will remain Prime Minister of Great Britain.

The Page has been figuring out what was the impact of Johnson's active support of Ukraine, why the British media call his victory a Pyrrhic one, and how good this news was for Kyiv.

Votes for and against and commitment to Ukraine

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

On the evening of June 6, as a result of a secret ballot of the Conservatives on a vote of no confidence, Boris Johnson remained in power, obtaining 211 votes in favor and 148 against.

Part of what helped Johnson to keep his post was that since the beginning of the invasion, he had become one of the most ardent supporters of active assistance to Ukraine and had put pressure on the West to quickly pass the sanctions and coordinate military support for Kyiv.

In particular, prior to the vote, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stressed that Johnson's leadership in supporting Ukraine had been for her a key factor in voting for him to remain prime minister.

Quote"The Prime Minister has my 100% backing in today's vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him," she tweeted and added that the head of the British government apologized for his mistakes.
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Also prior to the vote, the prime minister promised members of his party to continue to focus on the country's economic growth.

Ze’s and Ukraine’s support: "Johnson is a true friend"


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indirectly expressed his support for Boris Johnson on June 6 by discussing issues urgent for Ukraine ahead prior to the vote.

The Guardian reports that shortly after the vote of no confidence was overcome, Nadhim Zahawi, the UK education secretary said:

Quote"Zelenskyy will be punching the air because he knows his great ally Boris Johnson will be prime minister tomorrow morning."

Zelenskyy later saluted Johnson's victory, confirming that he was happy that Ukraine had not lost such an ally:

Quote"I think Boris Johnson is a true friend of Ukraine. This is great news."

In addition to Zelenskyy, Johnson’s victory was also saluted by OP adviser Mykhailo Podolyak immediately after the results had been announced:

Quote"Leadership is always a heavy burden. Boris Johnson was one of the first who realized the menace of Russia & stood by Volodymyr Zelenskyy to protect the free world from barbaric invasion. The world needs such leaders."

Podolyak added that the British crown is "the shield of the democratic world."

Johnson's scandalous parties

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The vote of no confidence was initiated by 54 members of the Conservative Party, the reason was the violation of quarantine rules on Downing Street in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is meant here is a high-profile scandal when it became known that government officials had been hosting parties in the government building during tough lockdowns, while such parties had been prohibited for ordinary citizens.

Johnson pleaded guilty, though not immediately, but refused to resign. The scandal had a significant impact on his ratings among the population and the support of his own party.

Although this time the leader of the government kept his post, the vote showed deep divisions within the Conservative Party, which will impact Johnson's ability to lead the party into the next elections, The Times reports.

Johnson is technically safe from another challenge for a year, however, if discontent within the party grows, the fate of Theresa May may await him.

The latter had to resign herself when she was threatened with changing the terms "insurance" against a new vote of no confidence.

Pyrrhic victory and UK’s problems

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

In another article, The Times explains why Johnson's victory could be a Pyrrhic one.

Quote"Just 2.5 years after the prime minister led his party to an 80-seat majority in a general election, 148 of his colleagues, equivalent to more than 40% of the party, voted to dump him," the authors of the article explain.

It's not just about the pandemic partying scandal, but also about the general criticism of the government's actions:

  • the response to the cost-of-living crisis was too feeble and included a number of long-term goals with no real plan;
  • the energy security strategy contains implausible targets for nuclear and offshore wind energy;
  • flagship planning reforms were dropped;
  • there are problems with social benefits, while billions will be raised by a new tax to spend on an unreformed health service;
  • Brexit remains far from done, with the government planning to table legislation this week that would rip up its own treaty over the Northern Irish protocol, creating fresh uncertainty for businesses.

9% inflation, frustration of millions of people facing energy danger and the likely point of poverty in the fall will also not give popularity to the Tory government. Moreover, Johnson is expected to reduce taxes and improve the situation with the purchase and rental of housing.

To prevent the Conservatives from suffering a horrific defeat in the next election, the premier is advised to focus on the UK's pressing issues and stop being so "deeply frivolous".

Pressure on Johnson will not cease

Another article from The Times states that the pressure on the prime minister will not cease after the vote of no confidence is overcome.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The chairman of the Commons intelligence and security committee, Julian Lewis, stressed that Johnson's difficulties derived largely from the belief that he and his "favoured friends" can disregard the rules that others must follow.

Quote"He has an aversion to scrutiny bordering on contempt for the Commons. Impropriety at the top of government is impossible to defend, especially when it is habitual," the official explained.

William Hague, a former Conservative leader, likened the current level of trust in Johnson to driving a car with flat tires.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Quote"This is like trying to drive along the M1 with two flat tyres. And you can say you’re at the steering wheel, but is it really viable? You’re not going to get to the end of the motorway," he said.

Near-term risks for Johnson

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Another article from The Guardian warns that even if Johnson manages to bury the hatchet of distrust and lead the party into the next election, his governing will become much more difficult.

Given that the Prime Minister's opponents within the Tories do not give up, he will be regularly attacked.

The Guardian also writes that while Johnson is safe right now, he faces byelections on June 23 in Wakefield, Tiverton and Honiton.

There, voters will replace Conservative MPs who lost their seats because of scandals: one, for example, resigned because of allegations of sexual assault, the other for watching pornography in the House of Commons.

Wakefield is expected to be won back by Labour and the Liberal Democrats could triumph in Tiverton and Honiton.

The outlet explains that although Johnson is usually portrayed as extremely power-hungry, in reality he is let down by an obvious desire to please everyone. Therefore, he can be a good prime minister in times of upswing, but a weak leader in times of decline and economic crises.

Quote"It is not impossible that at some point in the coming months, as the tumult of hostile MPs’ voices grows louder, that he simply decides to announce a departure date, quits as an MP and settles down to finally finish his book on Shakespeare and earn vast sums amid the more forgiving crowds of the lecture circuit," the outlet writes.

Johnson as Hannibal Lecter


Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s fans accused the well-known outlet BBC of preparing an information attack on the prime minister.

In particular, MP Adam Holloway said that the Newsnight news program deliberately changed the image of Johnson, making him look like the fictional serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Holloway even showed a photo to prove his accusation.

Quote"This programme was showing pictures of him (Johnson) looking like Hannibal Lecter. Does that guy look like somebody who’s been given a birthday cake, or somebody who’s just been locked up for something at the Old Bailey?" he said.

Prime minister’s Deputy and Minister of Justice Dominic Raab also supported the him:

Quote"Johnson won with 59% — that’s actually more than he got in terms of support when he was elected leader of the Conservative Party"

Raab added that the most important thing now is to respect the last vote and move forward.

Conclusions for Ukraine

Now, from the point of view of external support, Johnson's ardent support for Ukraine, albeit for the sake of strengthening his popularity among party members and in society, plays into the hands of Kyiv.

It is not known how tough the new prime minister of Great Britain, who would not have such challenges as Johnson did, could be in the position of helping Ukraine, to justify the last vote of confidence, solving both the country's internal problems and playing at the international level.

At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that in the coming months the level of distrust towards the British prime minister will peak, and then the Ukrainian leadership will need to build relations with the new leader of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps less ardent in their statements of support and more pragmatic. Ukrainian diplomats, while celebrating their victory, should be prepared for this.

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