Boris Johnson’s position is “unsustainable” after he scraped through a confidence vote with over 40 per cent of MPs attempting to remove him, William Hague has said.
The former Conservative leader said the prime minister experienced a “greater level of rejection” than any of his predecessors had “endured and survived”, including Theresa May in 2018.
“While Johnson has survived the night, the damage done to his premiership is severe,” Lord Hague wrote.
“Deep inside, he should recognise that, and turn his mind to getting out in a way that spares party and country such agonies and uncertainties.”
The Conservative grandee argued there had been a collapse of faith that “almost certainly cannot be repaired”, adding: “For Johnson, continuing to lead the party after such a revolt will prove to be unsustainable”.
The remarks from Lord Hague, who led the Conservatives between 1997 and 2001, come after Mr Johnson said the government could now “move on” following what he claimed was a “decisive” result.
He also denied he was interested in calling a snap election, after Tory MPs voted by 211 to 148 in support of his leadership.
It represents a worse verdict from Tory MPs than when Ms May faced a confidence vote in 2018. The former prime minister secured the support of 63 per cent of her colleagues, but was still forced out within six months.
Lord Hague noted he did not face a confidence vote while leader of the opposition, but added he “would have regarded my position as completely untenable if more than a third of my MPs had ever voted against me”.
“The nature of this particular revolt makes it qualitatively as well as quantitatively devastating,” he wrote in The Times.
“A fairly narrow victory for Boris Johnson is not the defeat of a rival faction, or the squashing of an alternative candidate, but rather the fending-off of a gathering feeling of hopelessness.
He added: “That is the worst possible result from the Conservative Party’s point of view.”
In an attempt to defend the prime minister’s position ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, said the confidence vote should be respected and the party should “move forward”.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: “We’ve got two years to deliver and demonstrate that we’re delivering.
“I think we’re the ones with a plan, I think this prime minister is full of vision, determination and if anything, renewed energy to get off the Westminster insider track, on to the outward-facing agenda of delivering for the people.
“And I believe that we’ve got the plan, the energy and the team which Labour can’t match, they can’t rival, and I don’t think they’re doing anything other than carping from the side-lines.”