There are some who believe this is only a pyrrhic victory, a brief stay of execution, with his authority and credibility now irredeemably diminished. Some believe he may even hold a snap general election – a high-risk gamble, given the current state of the polls and his approval ratings, but one that could give him a fresh mandate from the people.
Others believe winning the confidence vote has kept the rebels at bay and that the PM now has the legitimacy to carry on with the agenda that brought him an 80-plus seat majority in the first place, but has been severely hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and, more recently, a range of scandals, including stories of sleaze, the Owen Paterson affair and, of course, Partygate.
The industry has been providing some instant reaction to the result of the vote and its impact on the property market.
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “What the property market needs more than anything is stability and confidence. Votes of this kind tend to generate the opposite.”
“Many decisions, particularly in terms of investment and development, require a longer-term view. If there is a change in leadership or government, then property players tend to sit on their hands.
“We are living in uncertain times which probably won’t change appreciably for a good while yet.”
Craig Vile, director of The ValPal Network, commented: “The PM has survived, but this vote of confidence in his leadership is another hit to his authority that has really suffered as a result of the ongoing partygate scandal. We only need to look back a few years to the previous PM, Theresa May, who survived a no confidence vote but was gone within six months.”
He added: “The property market, though, has shown it can be highly resilient to external shocks and outside forces – something that has been especially apparent in the last few years. But equally it needs stability and certainty to really thrive, and we don’t want to return to the situation of a few years ago when Brexit and general election uncertainty combined to leave the market in limbo for some time. The PM will now need to start pushing through the key elements of his vision if he is to remain in place for the long-term.”
Daniel Evans, chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), said: “Some will say Boris Johnson has merely dodged a bullet by winning the no-confidence vote, and that his fate will follow a similar path to Theresa May, who survived her own confidence vote before resigning six months later.”
“The PM has received a stay of execution, but will need to work really hard to win back the trust of not only his own party, but the voters too. That’s going to be very difficult given the extent of the partygate scandal, but the PM has shown Teflon-like qualities in the past.”
He added: “What is needed to change the mood of government is a comprehensive legislative programme, and property should form a major part of that. Actually implementing rental reform, for starters, would show a government that is able to start getting laws passed again, rather than one riven by in-fighting and scandal.”
Question marks regarding Boris Johnson’s leadership are unlikely to go away despite his victory tonight, but under Conservative Party rules, a leader who wins a confidence vote is safe from such a challenge for a year.
That said, the rules are flexible and can easily be changed, which means it doesn’t offer Johnson unlimited protection. May was forced to announce a timetable for her departure despite winning her no confidence vote, under the threat of a rule change and new vote.
Some now expect Johnson to carry out another reshuffle to reimpose party discipline, which could extend to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.