Boris Johnson faces a vote of no confidence among his own MPs today after the threshold for triggering a Tory confidence vote was hit following the lockdown Partygate scandal and its aftermath. MailOnline has more.
The PM has sent a letter to MPs pleading for them to “draw a line” under the infighting, after backbench chief Graham Brady confirmed this morning that at least 54 MPs have asked for a full ballot.
The vote will be held between 6pm and 8pm, with Mr Johnson addressing the parliamentary party before that and the results declared shortly afterwards.
The development raises the possibility that Mr Johnson’s tenure could come to a crashing end less than three years after he won a stunning 80-strong Commons majority.
However, if half of the 359 eligible MPs back him in the secret vote in theory he is safe for a year – with some insurgents fearing they have moved too early ahead of key by-elections later this month.
Tory enforcers are already gearing up to threaten and cajole the rank-and-file, with chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris sending out a round-robin message to MPs offering to do proxy votes on their behalf. Politicians have also been warned by Sir Graham that their ballots will be void if they take photographs of papers – in an effort to prevent pressure tactics.
John Penrose, a usually-loyal MP who served as the premier’s anti-corruption champion, said he had ‘no option’ but to resign as Mr Johnson had broken the ministerial code. ‘I think it’s over,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt – who lost the last leadership contest to Mr Johnson – tweeted saying that he will vote against the PM.
“Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer and more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change,” he wrote.
There is speculation that some senior figures might be about to quit to join the insurrection, with trade minister Penny Mordaunt seen as on ‘resignation watch’. She tweeted today that she is in her Portsmouth constituency for a D-Day anniversary commemoration – but pointedly did not offer backing for the premier.
Cabinet ministers immediately rallied round, with Rishi Sunak pledging his support, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss saying he has her “100% backing”. Deputy PM Dominic Raab and Michael Gove also stood by him, while Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested victory by a single vote would be enough.
One senior MP who has been generally supportive told MailOnline that anything more than 100 MPs voting against the PM would be “bad”, arguing that the 150-plus MPs on the payroll are already priced in.
“He will win, but how much he wins by is the most important thing. Fewer than 100 would be good, anything more very bad. The payroll vote has to back him, so people will look at whether he’s got a majority on the back benches,” they said.
The MP also grimly recalled that other leaders, such as Theresa May, have not survived for long even after winning a confidence vote. “These things never end well. The genie is out of the bottle,” they said.
The born survivor is looking closer to going under by the day. If he does fall as a result of breaching his own idiotic lockdown rules (and lying about it) then there would I suppose be natural justice. A Prime Minister felled for attending a party is manifestly ludicrous, but then so were the rules he imposed that made doing so an offence.
Beware what may come after, though – there is little sign that others will be more sceptical of the new health totalitarianism.
Worth reading in full.
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