Boris Johnson: Senior Tories set for possible vote of confidence as early as next week | Political news



The trickle of MPs publicly calling for Boris Johnson to step down is now a modest stream and picking up speed.

And the most dangerous thing is that the rebellion seems uncoordinated and therefore unpredictable.

With the number of MPs openly questioning the Prime Ministerat 40, the senior Tories are preparing for the possibility of a confidence vote as early as next week.

PM ‘has real problems’ and ‘could face confidence vote next week’ – follow live updates in our politics hub

The number of letters calling for his resignation is known only to Sir Graham Brady, the backbencher who collects them, and he will inform the Prime Minister if the threshold is reached.

Veterans of the Theresa May period will recall that there were weeks of reports that the letter count was in the “low 40s” and rising, before it was actually hit.

To remind you of the rules, 15% of Tory MPs – currently 54 – must submit a letter to trigger a vote of no confidence.

Then, the Prime Minister must ensure the support of half of the Conservative MPs – 180 – to remain in office.

Read more: Which Tory MPs called on Boris Johnson to quit?

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What Sue Gray’s report means for the Prime Minister

But two interventions in the last 24 hours are particularly significant in showing how opinion appears to be changing in light of Sue Gray’s report.

Andrea Leadsom, loyal Brexiteer and former supporter of Mr Johnson, has written to her constituents in Northampton to blaming the prime minister for integrity breaches at the heart of government.

She wrote: “I am determined to be clear about my views on personal integrity – the conclusion I have drawn from Sue Gray’s report is that there have been unacceptable breaches of leadership which cannot be tolerated and which are the responsibility of the Prime Minister.

“Each of my fellow Tory MPs and I must now individually decide the right course of action to restore trust in our government.”

The other is from former Attorney General Jeremy Wright, a lawyer who wrote a carefully thought-out 2,000-word analysis of the situation – concluding that he could not know whether the Prime Minister had knowingly misled Parliament, but concluding that he should now resign regardless of the tone he had set to others and the damage to government institutions that s are followed.

His reasoning may well strike a chord with others, who would otherwise have awaited the by-elections next month and the Privileges Committee investigation later this year.

Multitude of reasons behind MPs’ dissatisfaction

From Mayites to Brexiters; 2019-ers to veterans, Lib Dem-face and Labour-face; the rebels are not the coordinated faction Theresa May had to contend with from the Brexiteer European Research Group; but act alone and for a variety of grievances.

A former cabinet minister says Leadsom’s intervention shows the Tory right-wing are unhappy with what they see as the Chancellor’s ‘un-Conservative’ decision to give all families £400 to deal with higher energy bills – believing he should have cut taxes instead. .

“For £15billion we haven’t had much political impact,” the senior curator said.

There is anger on various sides about the party’s management.

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Partygate: Prime Minister refuses to resign

The fact that MPs were told to vote against Labour’s windfall tax a week before the government announced its own has set things back.

What some see as the prime minister’s triumphant tone after the publication of Sue Gray’s report – saying it had been ‘vindicated’ – has also caused shock.

But what really got people’s minds focused were polls suggesting the Tories are on the verge of losing their majority and big campaigner Boris Johnson may have lost his 2019 Midas touch.

As one MP with a slim majority and yet to go public told me: “The prime minister is in more danger than he thinks, and more in danger than the whips realize.

Policies such as the return of Imperial Measures and the scrapping of the rapid flow of the Civil Service have done little to improve the mood, with MPs wondering ‘what votes they intend to win with this’.

The Tories facing the Lib Dems in the South and South West are now deeply concerned about retaining their seats.

Expect a lobbying operation before any vote

Some of the prime minister’s allies are confident he would win a vote of confidence and then be safe until the next election.

They point out that there is no obvious successor waiting in the wings and that Sir Keir Starmer’s Labor party still has a mountain to climb to win a majority; which are both true.

If the threshold is reached, MPs expect a lobbying campaign from Downing Street, with the Prime Minister expected to offer jobs, knighthoods, trade envoy roles and any other inducements that might win over wavering MPs.

He will tell them that he can put partygate behind him and keep his promises to level up.

And for the rebels, the risk of failure is high: Theresa May, of course, won a vote of confidence in December 2018, even though she stepped down months later after her Brexit strategy failed .

Tories who have publicly and privately criticized the Prime Minister are clear that there would be a wide open field in a future leadership race – and no one knows who would win.

Jeremy Hunt has indicated he may want to run again, and some on the low-tax right are eyeing ministers such as Liz Truss.

If a vote of confidence takes place, it would be a sign that enough MPs are willing to bet that any other leader would be preferable. Nobody, including the prime minister, knows what decision they will make.


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