London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a confidence vote brought by his own lawmakers, but the scale of the rebellion - 41% of his party - has left lasting questions about his ability to lead the country.
What are the next potential flashpoints for Johnson?
On June 23, elections will be held to fill two vacant seats in parliament. Both were previously held by members of Johnson’s Conservative Party forced to resign in disgrace. Polling shows the party could lose at least one to opposition parties.
Defeat, particularly if it is heavy, could be used by those who want to oust Johnson as evidence that he has lost the trust of the British public and is no longer the vote-winner he was in 2019 when he delivered a large Conservative majority.
Results are expected early on June 24.
While British police have concluded their investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Johnson’s Downing Street offices - for which Johnson himself was among those fined - he is still under investigation by a parliamentary committee.
The Privileges Committee is investigating whether Johnson deliberately misled parliament in his initial responses to reports of rule-breaking parties.
If the committee finds he deliberately misled parliament he would be expected to resign.
The inquiry could also conduct public hearings with Johnson and other senior figures, bringing a fresh focus onto an issue that has outraged many of those who stuck to the strict COVID-19 lockdown rules.
There is currently no timetable for the investigation.
Cost of living crisis
The cost of food and fuel in Britain is rising sharply, pushing many household budgets to the brink.
The full effects of this so-called cost of living crisis have yet to be felt and living standards will likely worsen throughout the year, even as the government tries to help the most vulnerable.
Interest rates rises to bring inflation under control have pushed up mortgage payments, with further increases by the Bank of England seen as likely. A market-based government cap on household energy bills is set to rise sharply again in October.
Johnson’s government is already perceived by many voters as having done too little, too late to cushion the blow this year.
Failure to address that perception if the crisis worsens could further damage confidence in his leadership ability.
The Conservative Party holds its annual conference between Oct. 2 and Oct. 5. The event is used to announce new policies and rally support from grassroots members.
However, it may also become a focal point for those who fear the party cannot win a general election, due in 2024, with Johnson at helm. This could generate momentum for another leadership challenge before the event so that it can be used as a platform for his replacement to set out a new vision.
Another confidence vote
Conservative Party rules mean Johnson cannot face another vote of confidence within the next 12 months. However, those rules can be changed by the party committee in charge of leadership contests, if there is political will to do so.