Boris Johnson hailed the convincing result of Monday's confidence vote and said he was grateful to colleagues for their support.
But others have pointed out the contortions that some of those colleagues had to adopt to spin success out of the fact that 148 of Johnson's own MPs want him ousted as the party leader, claiming that the BBC used graphics that made the prime minister look like Hannibal Lecter and that because the result was not as bad as they feared, it was a good win.
Nadhim Zahawi's definition of success turned out to be surprisingly low, but he also provoked the ire of Tory MPs by bringing the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy into Johnson's leadership woes. He said that was a ballot, and he said that was handsomely won by the prime minister. It is a ballot. 50 plus one is a majority. Zahawi said something. He ll be punching the air because he knows his great ally Boris Johnson will be prime minister tomorrow morning. Foreign Office minister James Cleverly was said to be briefing reporters immediately after the result that 41% of Johnson's party voted to get rid of him meant he has a third mandate from the parliamentary party It was a comfortable win. He told Reuters before highlighting how deeply divided the Tory party is, he added: If there are any other candidates who think they are going to get 60% of the parliamentary party rallying around them, good luck with that. Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, said that the vote by a small margin than either Theresa May or Margaret Thatcher equated to a massive majority and that we will prove to the British public that we deserve another term. It is not for a few snide backbench MPs to try and get rid of the prime minister, it is up to the British public and that is what happened to the vote tonight, I mean, what was it? There is a huge majority for the prime minister. Bone went on to compare the result to an entirely different election. In the last time there was an election by MPs in the House of Commons on the leadership, Boris Johnson received only 51% of Conservative MPs voting for him, so he has improved his position relating to MPs, he said.
Other Conservative MPs struck a more sombre note. Scott Benton, Blackpool South MP, voted for the prime minister. When asked if he acknowledged that it was not a good result for Johnson, he said: No, I can acknowledge it. Would I have liked the majority to be higher for him this evening? I would do it. As a Conservative party we do one thing very well, and that is uniting and fighting the opposition. A number of big hitters were neutral in their reactions. The victory was not a resounding one, according to the housing secretary, Michael Gove. Instead, he said Johnson had secured the support of Conservative MPs. Foreign secretary Liz Truss said she was pleased that colleagues supported the prime minister. I support him 100%. Now is the time to get on with the job. The PM has won the confidence vote, and now it is time to move forward, according to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.