So he’s still there. Now what? That’s the question for Boris Johnson and in truth the rest of the Conservative party.
It’s usually the case that a no confidence vote, no matter how easily it is sailed through, is the beginning of the end for a leader.
As we know, however, Boris is no usual politician. To borrow a phrase from his political hero, perhaps this is just the end of the beginning, despite the awful result.
One of the great problems for his government over the past year, and why it has so easily been thrown off by events ranging from partygate revelations to controversies over free-school meals, is that it has failed to identify the point of itself.
Johnson and Sunak claim they are business-friendly, tax-cutting Tories, yet introduce a windfall levy and hike personal taxes.
They talk a good game on levelling up, whatever that may mean, but show little desire to actually do much other than move a government department or two. If they have one obvious policy which they seem insistent upon it’s to give London a kicking for having the temerity to vote for the other lot.
Other than that it’s hard to see much consistency in a government more obviously defined by constant campaigning and culture wars than it is by any traditional conservative orthodoxy.
The Prime Minister now has, in theory, a year before his defenestration can be forced upon him by his party. The odds are that today’s brouhaha will be followed by a reshuffle, which is of great interest in Westminster and precisely zero in the rest of the country. What will they achieve? What does Boris Johnson want to achieve? How will the country be reshaped, redefined, reformed by Johnsonism? Answers have so far come there none.
If the PM wishes to remain in power, he’d be wise to work out quite what he wants to do with it.