Britain’s prime minister faces potential pitfalls even after victory in a no-confidence vote over lockdown parties.
LONDON — Britain faced a reshaped political landscape on Tuesday, even if its prime minister remained in place. Boris Johnson’s less-than-convincing victory in a no-confidence vote by his own party on Monday leaves him badly damaged, with few obvious ways to resurrect his fortunes and plenty of opportunities for coup plotters.
With a potentially devastating Parliamentary by-election in two weeks and a drumbeat of woeful economic news, Mr. Johnson’s political position could well deteriorate even further. Some rebels in his Conservative Party may wonder whether they acted prematurely in forcing a vote now rather than waiting a few more weeks.
Political analysts said that reflected the inchoate nature of this rebellion. It was less a tightly managed coup attempt than an organic movement of Tory lawmakers, frustrated after months of disclosures about illicit social gatherings at 10 Downing Street at a time when the rest of the country was in isolating pandemic lockdowns.
Among the post-mortems, the most stinging may have come from William Hague, a former Conservative Party leader who has been relatively restrained in his criticism of Mr. Johnson. He bluntly told the prime minister to resign.
“Votes have been cast that show a greater level of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived,” Mr. Hague wrote in The Times of London. “Deep inside, he should recognize that, and turn his mind to getting out in a way that spares party and country such agonies and uncertainties.”
Nothing in Mr. Johnson’s manner suggests that he plans to do that. On Tuesday morning, he told a cabinet meeting that it was time to put internal divisions over his status aside and “get on with talking about the issues I think the people in this country want to talk about.”
Later this week, he is expected to make a series of policy announcements that are calculated to turn the page on the recent upheaval and attempt to reset his government. There is, inevitably, talk of another cabinet reshuffle.
The government may also roll out legislation to overhaul the post-Brexit trade rules that govern Northern Ireland. That could please the hard-core Brexiteers in the party, some of whom voted against Mr. Johnson on Monday. But it would antagonize the European Union at a time when Britain can ill afford further turmoil.
The bigger question facing Mr. Johnson is how he will pass difficult legislation when more than 40 percent of his lawmakers voted to oust him. Having to rely on the opposition Labour Party to enact policy proposals would be an embarrassing path for a prime minister known for his swagger.
With food and fuel prices soaring, the government faces hard decisions on taxes and public spending. How it will confront them with a bitterly divided party is far from clear.