Boris Johnson set to face confidence vote as Tory plotters edge towards 54 letters

Boris Johnson not safe even surviving no confidence vote

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The Prime Minister has been under mounting pressure from Conservative MPs following the publication of Sue Gray’s report into partygate last month. Mr Johnson saw off a potential challenge from his detractors back in January after rebels failed to submit enough letters to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.

However, the Prime Minister, along with wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has since received a fixed penalty notice during the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Operation Hillman’ investigation.

According to Sky News’ Tom Larkin, 45 Tory MPs have publicly questioned Mr Johnson’s position as Conservative leader, 30 no longer support him as leader, 28 have called for him to quit and 18 letters have been submitted.

However, the anonymous process requires 54 letters to be submitted to the 1922 Committee to force a vote on Mr Johnson’s leadership.

The Sunday Times has reported as many as 67 could have been handed in.

One rebel MP told Sky News that they suspected the vote would happen this week.

However, they added that it was hard to know precisely because this was an “organic and completely unorganised” show of concern from backbenchers.

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Another senior Tory MP who has called for Mr Johnson to resign said having a vote now would be “daft” and “too risky”.

To remove the Prime Minister as Tory leader, rebels would need 180 Conservative MPs to vote against Mr Johnson.

Theresa May, who occupied Number 10 from 2016 to 2019, saw off her own Brexit-induced challenge in 2018 by 200 votes to 118.

London and Business Minister Paul Scully conceded the Prime Minister “may well have a vote of confidence”.

But the Sutton & Cheam MP, who has a majority of 8,351 over the Liberal Democrats, added: “If it does happen, the Prime Minister, I know, will face it down.”

If rebels fail to depose Mr Johnson in a leadership vote then the Prime Minister will have a 12-month period in which MPs cannot challenge him.

According to Sky News, a supportive ex-Minister said: “After the 12 months, we will be very close to a general election, so probably a whole lot of reluctance to remove him then…Boris is going nowhere and will be leading us into the next general election.”

The Prime Minister faces two massive electoral tests later this month.

Voters in the ‘red wall’ seat of Wakefield and true blue Tiverton & Honiton will go to the polls on June 23.

The Prime Minister will not have been boosted by a J&L Partners survey in Wakefield which found the Tories 7.5 percent majority has been slashed.

J&L Partners found Labour had increased its vote share by more than eight points to open up a 20 percent lead over the Conservatives, who have taken a 19 point hit.

J&L Partners pollster James Johnson said: “The main reason that voters give is that Boris Johnson has covered up partygate and then lied about it.

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“The second-biggest reason is Boris Johnson is out of touch with working class people.”

Tory rebels are keen to stress that the Prime Minister, who delivered the Tory Party its largest majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, is no longer an electoral asset.

A rebel briefing document said: “Boris Johnson is no longer an electoral asset and, if left in post, will lead the party to a substantial defeat in 2024.

“He will lose Red Wall seats (with majorities under 10,000) to Labour, and Blue Wall seats (majorities up to 20,000) to the Liberal Democrats.”

The document added as many as 160 Tory MPs are “at risk” and suggested tactical voting could lead to a 1997-style landslide defeat.

However, Number 10 is expected to shift the focus onto domestic policy in the coming days.

The Government could even make a series of announcements about the NHS and a potential speech about housebuilding.

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