British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing an internal vote of no-confidence in his leadership among lawmakers from his Conservative Party. Voting, scheduled to last two hours, began on Monday evening, with results expected around an hour after the process was complete.
Johnson has been fending off accusations of multiple breaches of ethics in the past months, most notably over the repeated breaking of his own government's COVID-19 lockdown rules at parties in government buildings.
What has triggered the vote?
Tory party official Graham Brady, who is chairman of the party's 1922 Committee, says he has received the necessary 54 letters demanding a vote on Johnson's leadership to trigger one.
"The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded," Brady told Conservative lawmakers in a note.
The vote is expected to take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (1700-1900 GMT) on Monday.
"The votes will be counted immediately afterward. An announcement will be made at a time to be advised," Brady added.
The 1922 Committee is the backbench committee of Conservative lawmakers that oversees party leadership challenges.
Why is Johnson under pressure to quit?
An internal report last month criticized the "senior leadership team" at Johnson's Number 10 Downing St. offices for parties that occurred there while the UK was under lockdown restrictions.
While the prime minister has apologized, he has repeatedly insisted he did not knowingly breach pandemic lockdown rules.
London's Metropolitan Police issued more than 100 fines to people who attended the gatherings, including Johnson and his wife, Carrie, at the prime minister's Downing Street offices and residence. The parties took place at a time when such events were banned under coronavirus lockdown rules.
Johnson is also under pressure over questions about a costly refurbishment of his Downing Street apartment, eventually revealed to have been financed by a wealthy Conservative Party donor. He is additionally accused of corruption after seeking to use his parliamentary majority to halt a lawmaker's suspension for corruption.
What happens after the vote?
Should Johnson lose the vote among the 359 Conservative lawmakers, he will be replaced as both prime minister and Conservative Party leader. A win would make him safe from any fresh internal challenge to his leadership for the next 12 months.
Johnson wrote to his party colleagues on Monday ahead of the vote, saying: "Tonight we have the chance to end weeks of media speculation and take this country forward, immediately, as one united party."
The prime minister argued that an internal leadership contest could send the wrong message to voters if "we appear once again to be focusing on Westminster politics." He said he did not believe voters "will lightly forgive us" in such a situation, saying "I am afraid the only beneficiaries will be our opponents."
Johnson, a leading campaigner in favor of the UK's decision to leave the European Union, came to power after Theresa May. The Conservatives had also tried to eject May using this same mechanism but failed.
She later even survived a formal parliamentary vote of confidence in the House of Commons at the peak of the upheaval trying to arrange terms for Brexit. May ultimately resigned when her proposed Brexit accord failed to pass through the Commons.
rc/fb (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)