Speaking in the House of Commons for the first time since Monday’s confidence vote, prime minister Boris Johnson has said that he is ready to “get on” with governing again and insisted that his political career had “barely begun”.
Monday’s confidence vote saw Johnson secure the backing of 211 Tory MPs, while 148 – equivalent to 41 per cent of the parliamentary party – voted against him.
Johnson’s opponents have been critical of his role in the Partygate saga and raised concerns over the Conservative party’s current tax policies and the government response to the cost-of-living crisis.
Despite supporting the prime minister in Monday’s vote, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and health secretary Sajid Javid are both favourable of cutting taxes to help stimulate the economy and ease the financial squeeze on households.
However, a defiant prime minister vowed to “draw a line” under the issue of lockdown parties and promised a comprehensive programme of reforms to cut down crime, shake-up NHS leadership and deal with the Covid backlog, and tackle rising prices.
The BBC further reports that although Johnson’s longer-term ambition is to heed calls from his colleagues to bring taxes down, he is concerned about moving too quickly on the issue and pushing up public borrowing and debt as a result.
After being quizzed by Labour’s Dame Angela Eagle in the opening exchanges of Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson said that he was committed to remaining in Number 10 and delivering on the priorities of the British people.
Dame Angela said: “This week's events have demonstrated just how loathed this prime minister is, and that's only in his own party.
“As his administration is too distracted by its internal divisions to deal with the challenges we face, can the prime minister explain if 148 of his own backbenchers don't trust him why on earth should the country?”
The PM responded: “I can assure her in a long political career so far - barely begun - I've of course picked up political opponents all over and that is because this government has done some very big and very remarkable things which they didn't necessarily approve of.
“And what I want her to know is that absolutely nothing and no-one, least of all her, is going to stop us with getting on delivering for the British people.”
Later in the session, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attacked the government over the efficiency of the NHS, to which the prime minister highlighted the government’s investment into improving the health service and its long-term agenda to level up the whole country.
The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, opted to focus on the PM’s integrity in the wake of Partygate, and accused him of going about his business with the mentality that “the rules don't apply to him the way that they do for everyone else”.
Blackford added: “That's not the behaviour of someone who can remain in office, its someone that quite simply needs to be removed from office.”
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons