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UK politics

Boris limps on – for now

Johnson: a bruising result. Leon Neal/pool/AFP

Boris Johnson is a “dead man walking”, says Matthew Parris in The Times. Of the Tories not on the government payroll, about three quarters are thought to have voted against the PM. And this bruising result is “all the more extraordinary” given the party has no obvious successor. “Anyone but Boris,” seemed to be the mood. The issue remains far from settled. Indeed, the Conservatives now face the “worst possible outcome”: a long, unedifying struggle to remove their leader.

It was “very Boris” that the attempt to save the PM “degenerated into such a mad scramble”, says Iain Martin in the same paper. No 10’s ring-round to persuade wavering MPs “became increasingly desperate”: some Tories stopped answering their phones to avoid Downing Street’s pleas; more than one hid in their office. The rebels were only emboldened by Johnson supporters making “increasingly wild claims about the consequences of a defeat” on television.

The real winners of the vote were the opposition parties, says Robert Shrimsley in the FT. Johnson will limp on, “constantly insecure”, while his party becomes increasingly restive and unmanageable. And the Tories’ chances of hanging on to power will dwindle by the day. Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Theresa May all faced no-confidence votes. Thatcher and May were both (eventually) replaced, and the Tories went on to win the next election. Major wasn’t – and his party “crashed to a huge defeat”.