The Prime Minister survived a confidence vote brought by his own MPs, but the scale of the rebellion – 41 percent of his party – has left lasting questions about his ability to lead the country both in the UK and abroad.
On June 23, elections will be held to fill two vacant seats in parliament. Both were previously held by members of the 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 Mr 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.
Outside the UK, the Prime Minister was brutally mocked despite his victory in the Commons on Monday.
Writing for Italian daily La Stampa, former director of The Economist, Bill Emmott, branded Mr Johnson an “incompetent clown”, liking him to Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump.
Mr Emmott wrote: “Johnson likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill, the British leader during World War II, but the two contemporary politicians he actually resembles the most are Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi.
“With Trump, Johnson shares the opinion that it is always a mistake to admit defeat.
“With Berlusconi, Johnson shares the opinion that optimism, a smile and a joke are enough to get ahead.
“And, just like them, Johnson believes that if you can survive and wait, sooner or later you will have another chance.”
Claiming the Prime Minister is suffering from low approval rates in the UK, he added: “Why is everyone so negative about Boris Johnson? The fundamental answer is that during the three years he spent at 10 Downing Street he was an unconvincing and often incompetent prime minister.
“His only strength from the party’s point of view was winning the 2019 general election. But the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 has been erratic and disturbing.
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“His government has been inundated with fairly well-founded allegations of corruption. More recently, as is well known, the premier and his staff have violated the lockdown laws that they themselves have designed and imposed on the rest of the country.
“They even threw a party the night before the state funeral for the queen’s husband.”
While admitting Europe needs the UK for its strategic partnership with the US in tackling the war in Ukraine, Mr Emmott claimed the EU is enjoying the “pleasure of its discomfort, especially of a country that has disturbed Europe so much with its Brexit”.
“Let’s not despair, though,” he added.
“It is very likely that Boris Johnson will be replaced soon as British Prime Minister, as the blows he has taken are really relevant.”
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He concluded: “The long-term history of Europe’s relations with its problematic neighbour, Britain, will not be written by the clown Boris Johnson but by his successor, most likely from a centre-left government.”
Mr Johnson tried to shore up his leadership on Tuesday by setting out a raft of new policies to ministers.
His first challenge is to convince his most senior allies, some of whom would have been likely to run to replace him if he had been forced out, that he will be able to move on from questions about his leadership.
Mr Johnson thanked cabinet ministers for their support as he urged them to push through reforms to lower costs for consumers, businesses and government.
“We’re able now to draw a line under the issues that our opponents want to talk about, and we’re able to get on with talking about what I think the people in this country want us to,” he told his cabinet in televised remarks.