Cabinet Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed he predicted to the nearest of a vote the scale of the recent uprising by Tory MPs against Boris Johnson.
In doing so, the Transport Secretary has been much more accurate in predicting the extent of opposition to the Prime Minister’s leadership than the Conservative whips.
The backroom repairmen were surprised by the size of the mutiny having underestimated the number of parliamentary parties supporting the defiance at the beginning of the month.
In this case, Conservative MPs voted 211 to 148 in favor of Mr Johnsonbut the scale of opposition was greater than that seen in 2018 when Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence.
She won the support of 63% of her MPs but was still expelled within six months.
Mr Johnson saw 41% of his MPs vote against him, a worse result than Ms May.
While the Tory leader and his supporters insist it was a ‘decisive’ victory, it has left him bruised by the fallout from the party door scandal, the Cost of life crisis, political challenges and the threat of further blows in two key by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton on June 23.
Mr Shapps had previously accurately predicted the number of Tory MPs who backed Boris Johnson as leader.
Asked on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday if he had been ‘on the money’ again after the recent vote of no confidence, Mr Shapps said: ‘One on.
He added: “But I have to point out that it’s not as useful as it looks, it’s not as good as it looks, it’s a statistical prediction rather than individuals who voted specifically one way or the other.”
But he wouldn’t be drawn if he was in a rush to find out if he had given Mr Johnson a heads-up, although as a key ally he would likely have flagged the figures.
Mr Shapps told Ridge: “I’m not going to go into the specifics of the conversation.”
Seeking to draw a line under recent infighting, he added: ‘Everyone is now in the mood to give the Prime Minister the opportunity, the space, the time to make sure he can pursue a part of the work he does.”
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Mr Johnson’s former anti-corruption champion John Penrose, who left office accusing the Prime Minister of breaking ministerial rules on anti-lockdown Downing Street parties, said the result of the poll censorship had given the conservative leader time for a ‘reset’.
The Tory MP told Ridge: ‘I think by winning the vote, although I think he would have liked to win it a lot easier and by a bigger margin, but I think the Prime Minister won himself a little time.
“And people like me and others, we have to respect the outcome of that vote, we have to accept it and respect it and I think everyone does.
“It means the Prime Minister has some time to deliver the reset he has already said he wants to do.
“He knows he has to rebuild bridges if you want to, so he says he wants to do it and I think it’s absolutely the right thing for him to do.”
He added: “But I don’t think rebuilding bridges will just involve ignoring the issue because I don’t think ethics works that way.
“I don’t think integrity works that way.
“I think you have to show that you’re changing what you do and changing how you do it in order to address the concerns.
“You can’t just ignore them and pretend it didn’t happen.”
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