A Victory for Boris - What now?

Chairman of Capital International Bank and former MP for Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field, provides a few thoughts on the implications of yesterday's ballot, which gave Boris Johnson a 211-148 margin of victory:

Any wistful hope that this contest might "clear the air" or even provide a decisive outcome to the leadership question has been thwarted by this outcome.  It will provide succour only to the Conservative Party's opponents.

The fact that over 41% of sitting Tory MPs refused to support their leader (a man who only two and a half years ago delivered the Party its biggest election majority in a third of a century) suggests that today's Conservative parliamentary party is all but ungovernable. Calls for unity will evidently fall on deaf ears and the warring factions will have only been emboldened to continue their battles.

History suggests that the very fact of a confidence vote being called augurs ill for the longevity of the leader concerned. An outcome as close as this makes a further challenge highly likely, especially as there is little to suggest that the economic or political outlook is likely to improve in the narrowing period before the next election.

Where do we go from here? Naturally we now enter the realms of speculation, but I would watch for high profile Ministerial resignations in the weeks ahead. If current senior figures conclude/recognise that the PM will not now survive until the next election, their prospects in any future leadership election risk being irreparably damaged by continuing as members of the administration until its bitter end. It is already clear that several prospective challengers intend to present themselves as "clean skins" untainted by involvement in a government that has lost the confidence of many Conservative supporters.

It is also worth "following the money" - all political parties need to keep their funders content. If several high-profile substantial Conservative donors publicly break with the PM his position will rapidly become untenable.

Openly and bitterly divided political parties do not find favour with the electorate; the outcome means that neither faction can be marginalised and the deep ideological, strategic and personal differences within the Conservative Party will probably only be reconcilable when it is out of office.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

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