Johnson wins backing of 211 out of 359 Conservative lawmakers, more than simple majority needed to remain in power, but still sees a significant rebellion of 148 MPs.

Johnson spent months battling to maintain his grip on power after the
Johnson spent months battling to maintain his grip on power after the "Partygate" controversy saw him become the first serving UK PM to have broken the law. (AFP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative MPs, after a string of scandals that have left the party's standing in tatters.

While 211 Tory MPs backed him in Monday's vote, 148 did not. 

Johnson, 57, needed the backing of 180 MPs to survive the vote –– a majority of one out of the 359 sitting Conservatives in parliament.

Just over two years after he won a landslide general election victory, the Brexit figurehead again proved his ability to escape political hot water to maintain his grip on power.

But the "Partygate" controversy over lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street, which saw him become the first serving UK prime minister to have broken the law, has still severely weakened his position.

Defeat would have meant an end to his time as party leader and prime minister until a replacement was found in an internal leadership contest.

In previous Tory ballots, predecessors Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May both ultimately resigned despite narrowly winning their own votes, deciding that their premierships were terminally damaged.

Johnson says 59% backing is a 'decisive' win

"I think it's a convincing result, a decisive result and what it means is that as a government we can move on and focus on the stuff that I think really matters to people," he told reporters.

"We can focus on what we're doing to help people with the cost of living, what we're doing to clear the Covid backlogs, what we're doing to make streets and communities safer by putting more police out," he said.

"It gives us the opportunity to continue to unite, to level up, and to strengthen our economy."

He also said he was not interested in holding a snap national election, which some had suggested may be his next move to attempt to reassert his authority.

"I'm certainly not interested in snap elections, what I'm interested in is delivering right now for the people of this country," he said.

Rebuild trust

Johnson has steadfastly refused to resign over "Partygate".

He earlier defended his record on delivering Brexit, fighting the Covid pandemic and Britain's hawkish support for Ukraine against Russia.

"This is not the moment for a leisurely and entirely unforced domestic political drama and months and months of vacillation from the UK," he told Tory MPs, according to a senior party source.

"We have been through bumpy times before and I can rebuild trust," the prime minister told his parliamentary rank and file, according to the source, adding: "The best is yet to come."

Supporters could be heard cheering and thumping their tables in approval. 

The source said Johnson had indicated tax cuts could be in the offing as Britain contends with its worst inflation crisis in generations.

Dozens have broken ranks and criticised Johnson after an internal probe into "Partygate" said he had presided over a culture of Covid lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Some ran late into the night, and one featured a drunken fight among staff, at a time when the government's pandemic rules forbade ordinary Britons from bidding farewell in person to dying loved ones.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies