Boris Johnson: Retribution or reaching out? The challenge the wounded PM now faces | Politics News

After surviving a confidence vote, Boris Johnson began the day urging his party to unite after his “decisive” victory and keep working on its priorities – as if it were minor troubles. locally with MPs now behind him.

But now had to face the rebels – with authority has basically weakened — the immediate question is how he will break through the bitter divisions in his party, which are now public.

In some newspapers today, his allies suggested that there would be retribution for some MPs who were particularly hard-liners about his leadership.

The Prime Minister has been ruthless before, drawing whips in 2019 from dozens of Conservatives who would not support his Brexit policy.

Downing Street sources this morning dismissed the prospect of being punished for disloyalty – one told me: “If you do, you will dig two graves and one is your own”.

Former longtime adviser to the Prime Minister Will Walden also warned Number 10 sees the leadership challenge as a “schoolyard war” for which detractors need to be “punished”.

A summer overhaul is under discussion and some critics of the Prime Minister said they would welcome a change of approach. A former minister in the One Nation wing of the party told me: “He’s badly injured and it’s up to him whether he reaches out or gets into the bunker.”

But this is where a wounded leader lies between a rock and a hard place. If he undertakes a “solidarity” cabinet reshuffle, he risks being watched by the rebels and having to abandon parts of his agenda.

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Some of those who decided to support the prime minister yesterday were offered the prospect of working at the ministerial level. But to make room for new ministers, the space needs to be cleared and anyone fired risks becoming another enemy.

As one rebel put it: “He’s stuck. If he staggers right, he risks losing more support than he gets, if he doesn’t then the right can decide They also need a new champion.”

The MP predicted a possible “stupid attack on the enemy’s front lines” to the Northern Ireland protocol, a prospect for which the Irish foreign minister has sounded the alarm.

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Other MPs say the issue of tax cuts will need to be reopened – with the Prime Minister now vulnerable to demands from some in his party to use more “Conservative” approaches to help people people have a cost of living.

But having fewer resources to tackle NHS backlog projects or leveling the ground will also generate protests and claims of broken promises.

In his letter to MPs yesterday, two of the key policies Mr Johnson mentioned as proof his government has delivered on its pledges are to limit social care – which is funded by controversial tax hikes – and Rwanda’s migration policy, hugely popular with some of his MPs and appalling for others.

The majority was once a weapon to push through tough policies, but the Prime Minister will now need to decide whether punishment or outreach is his best hope of stopping the uprising. This will only be honed if the Conservatives lose these two by-elections. month.

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