Plotting Tories goad Boris that a confidence vote is ‘imminent’


Boris Johnson vowed to ‘draw a line’ under the Tory revolt today as he faces a titanic showdown within hours after the threshold for triggering a confidence vote was dramatically hit.

The PM sounded defiance after backbench chief Graham Brady confirmed this morning that at least 54 MPs have asked for a full ballot in the wake of Partygate, and one will be held between 6pm and 8pm.

With the results declared shortly afterwards, it 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 50 per cent of 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.   

As whips gear up to threaten and cajole the Tory rank-and-file, Cabinet ministers immediately rallied round, with Rishi Sunak pledging his support, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss saying he has her ‘100 per cent backing’. Deputy PM Dominic Raab and Michael Gove also stood by him.

But there is speculation that some 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. 

One senior MP who has been generally loyal 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. 

Sir Graham, who waited for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to end before notifying No10 last night and agreeing the timetable, said in a statement: ‘The threshold of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded.

‘In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 1800 and 2000 today, Monday 6th June — details to be confirmed.

‘The votes will be counted immediately afterwards. An announcement will be made at a time to be advised. Arrangements for the announcement will be released later today.’

Sir Graham said he hoped there would be a ‘clear result’ – indicating that Mr Johnson would be welcome to address the 1922 committee this afternoon before the vote. 

A Downing Street spokesman made clear the PM is going to fight. ‘Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities,’ the spokesman said. 

‘The PM welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs and will remind them that when they’re united and focused on the issues that matter to voters there is no more formidable political force.’

The announcement came after Former minister Jesse Norman – a long-term supporter of the PM – accused him of ‘grotesque’ behaviour over Partygate in an excoriating letter.

Rebels have been circulating a dossier branding Mr Johnson the ‘Conservative Corbyn’ and raising alarm about a hammering from both Labour and the Lib Dems.

However, Mr Johnson’s allies have been warning of a damaging civil war and even an early election. 

Mr Johnson could find out as soon as today whether rebel MPs have collected enough letters to trigger a no-confidence vote

Former minister Jesse Norman accused the PM of 'grotesque' behaviour over Partygate in an excoriating letter to Conservative backbench chief Graham Brady

Former minister Jesse Norman accused the PM of ‘grotesque’ behaviour over Partygate in an excoriating letter to Conservative backbench chief Graham Brady

Sir Graham, who notified No10 last night and agreed the timetable, said he hoped there will be a 'clear result'

Sir Graham, who notified No10 last night and agreed the timetable, said he hoped there will be a ‘clear result’

Cabinet ministers rallied round Mr Johnson after it emerged a confidence vote will be held tonight

Cabinet ministers rallied round Mr Johnson after it emerged a confidence vote will be held tonight

Backbench chief Graham Brady confirmed this morning that at least 54 MPs have asked for a full ballot, and one will be held between 6pm and 8pm

Backbench chief Graham Brady confirmed this morning that at least 54 MPs have asked for a full ballot, and one will be held between 6pm and 8pm

How could Boris Johnson be ousted by Tory MPs?  

What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader? 

 Tory Party rules allow the MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.

How is that triggered? 

 A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

A vote of no confidence must be held if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to the chairman. Currently that threshold is 54 MPs.

Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public. This means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are. 

What happens when the threshold is reached? 

A vote is held, with the leader technically only needing to win support from a simple majority of MPs

But in reality, a solid victory is essential for them to stay in post.

What happens if the leader loses? 

The leader is sacked if they do not win a majority of votes from MPs, and a leadership contest begins in which they cannot stand.

However, they typically stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected. 

The rebels would need 180 votes to remove the Prime Minister – and he has an in-built advantage as around 170 Tory MPs are on the so-called ‘payroll vote’ because they have jobs as ministers, trade envoys, ministerial ‘bag carriers’ or party vice-chairmen.

It is a secret ballot though, so members of the government could oppose with premier without it becoming public.

One major problem for the rebels is the lack of an obvious replacement for Mr Johnson.

Rishi Sunak, previously regarded as the favourite, was also fined over Partygate and there is no other front runner.

Former Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt has been touted as a contender, while Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is riding high with party grass roots. Tom Tugendhat is the only MP to have openly declared he wants to be PM.   

In a round of interviews this morning, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said if Mr Johnson secures support from more than 50 per cent of MPs that will ‘draw a line’ under the revolt.

Sir Graham told journalists in Westminster: ‘I notified the Prime Minister yesterday that the threshold had been reached.

‘We agreed the timetable for the confidence vote to take place and he shared my view – which is also in line with the rules that we have in place – that that vote should happen as soon as could reasonably take place and that would be today.’

He refused to confirm how many letters had been received or when the threshold had been passed but said ‘it is slightly complicated because some colleagues had asked specifically that it should not be until the end of the Jubilee celebrations’.

In a letter to the PM posted on social media, Mr Norman, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said Mr Johnson had presided over ‘a culture of casual law-breaking’ in No 10 and that his claim to be vindicated by the Sue Gray report was ‘grotesque’. 

Some rebels are anxious that the timing could backfire as Mr Johnson is likely to win 50 per cent of the vote and survive. 

He would theoretically be immune from another challenge for a year, even though the party looks set for more punishment in two crucial by-elections later this month.

But Sir Graham acknowledged that those procedures could be changed.

‘Technically it’s possible for rules to be changed but the rule at present is there would be a period of grace,’ he told reporters.

Theresa May emerged victorious from a confidence vote, but was later forced to announce her resignation under threat that procedures would be redrawn to grant another ballot.  

A poll over the weekend found the Tories were trailing by 20 points in the Red Wall seat of Wakefield, which they seized as part of Mr Johnson’s landslide in 2019.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Javid said: ‘If he wins then that draws a line under this.’

Pressed on whether it will bring closure and unite the Conservative Party, Mr Javid said: ‘If he wins, then that’s a win – and by the way I do think he will win, but that’s obviously a decision for all my colleagues.

‘But at that point we draw a line under this because that’s, I think, more than anything, that is what the country wants to see.’

‘Is it right to have a vote? As I say, that’s a decision for my colleagues, I have full respect for them,’ he added.

‘We have this vote but, as a democratic party, you follow the rules and a win is a win and then we unite behind our leader and keep on delivering – that’s what this is about.’

Mr Javid said: ‘I’m supporting the Prime Minister and I hope more of my colleagues do tonight.

‘The Prime Minister will speak to my colleagues at the 1922 meeting tonight and then they will of course make up their own mind.

‘And, as I say that, let me be clear, I love my party. I think there’s a lot that we can be proud of. It’s a very proud democratic party.

‘No leader that I’ve known of my party has got 100% support from every single colleague but we make decisions through due process openly and transparently, and tonight is an opportunity to put all this behind us and get on with the job.’

As Cabinet circled the wagons around Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak tweeted: ‘From the vaccine rollout to our response to Russian aggression, the PM has shown the strong leadership our country needs.

‘I am backing him today and will continue to back him as we focus on growing the economy, tackling the cost of living and clearing the Covid backlogs.’

Communities Secretary Michael Gove posted: ‘I’ll be voting for Boris this evening. The PM got the big decisions right on Brexit and Covid.

‘We need to focus now on defending Ukraine, driving levelling-up and generating growth. We need to move past this moment and unite behind Boris to meet these challenges.’

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden tweeted: ‘I will be voting for Boris Johnson in the confidence vote tonight.

‘He’s demonstrated real leadership in getting the big calls right as PM – Brexit, vaccines, reopening and Ukraine.

‘I hope after this vote we can come together and focus on the future. Let’s face the big challenges united and focused on delivery.’

Foreign Office minister James Cleverley tweeting: ‘I’m not going to go flaky on him now.’

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the Prime Minister has his ‘full backing’, adding: ‘He got the key big decisions right… he has apologised for mistakes made, and we owe it to our constituents to focus on delivering to make lives better.’

Many Conservative backbenchers have also voiced their support for Mr Johnson, with Beaconsfield MP Joy Morrissey describing Monday’s vote as ‘a self-indulgent distraction the only effect of which will be to embolden a pitiful opposition’.

Others including Rachel Maclean, Mark Jenkinson, Stuart Anderson, Simon Clarke and Will Quince also said they will be backing the Prime Minister.

Nadhim Zahawi – seen as one of the contenders for next Tory leader – warned  MPs last night they were plotting a course for disaster by seeking to remove Mr Johnson.

The Education Secretary said the public ‘do not vote for divided teams’ – and unless the party unites it could go down to a defeat as catastrophic as Tony Blair’s Labour landslide of 1997.

Mr Zahawi insisted the PM had got the ‘big calls right’ – and urged MPs to ‘get behind him’ to ensure the Conservatives win the next general election.

And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that, although he did not think the threshold of 54 letters would be reached, he was confident that the PM would win any subsequent vote.

Nadhim Zahawi warned Tory MPs last night they were plotting a course for disaster by seeking to remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister

Nadhim Zahawi warned Tory MPs last night they were plotting a course for disaster by seeking to remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister

Last night Mr Zahawi told the Daily Mail: ‘People do not vote for divided teams. We are strongest when we are united and focused on delivery for the British people. The PM has got the big calls right: be it on Brexit, vaccines or leading us out of the pandemic. We need to get behind him.’

Meanwhile, Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Sunday Morning yesterday that Mr Johnson would lead the Conservatives into a general election victory because the issues that ‘matter to people’ are Brexit and economic growth.

He dismissed the mixed reception received by the PM as he attended a service for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, where boos could be heard from the crowd. Mr Shapps noted that there were also cheers and said ‘politicians don’t expect to be popular all the time’.

If the 54 letters have already been submitted, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee, could make an announcement as soon as this morning

If the 54 letters have already been submitted, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee, could make an announcement as soon as this morning

Asked if he believes there is going to be a vote of no-confidence in Mr Johnson this week, Mr Shapps said: ‘No, I don’t… I’m absolutely certain, with some of these huge decisions, like sorting out Brexit, getting through coronavirus, seeing the largest growing economy last year, these are decisions and actions which will matter to people.’

Asked if Mr Johnson would win a vote of confidence, the Transport Secretary said: ‘Yes, he will.’

Business minister Paul Scully last night said Mr Johnson could face a vote of no-confidence but backed him to ‘face it down’.

Speaking to Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show, Mr Scully said: ‘We may well have a vote of confidence. I think he will win that.’

Last week, divisions among the rebels emerged when Tobias Ellwood, an opponent of the PM, suggested the UK could rejoin the single market if Mr Johnson is replaced.

This prompted the Eurosceptic rebel Andrew Bridgen to say: ‘Let me be clear. If we get the opportunity to move on from the leadership of Boris Johnson, the next Prime Minister will have to be an active Brexiteer.’

Boris blasts back with health and housing reforms

A defiant Boris Johnson will launch a fightback against his critics this week by unveiling plans to tackle NHS inefficiency and expand the right to buy social housing.

Despite the threat of a ballot on his leadership, the Prime Minister will make it clear that his Government plans to focus on policies that can win the next election for the Conservatives.

The idea is to show that Mr Johnson is still brimming with ideas for improving the country – and that it would be foolish for his MPs to get rid of him.

This week will see a slew of health announcements, including the revelation today that the NHS has carried out a million checks for cancer and other diseases as part of a post-pandemic catch-up programme. Health Secretary Sajid Javid will also publish a report by Sir Gordon Messenger, a former Royal Marine general who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, into the future of NHS management.

Despite the threat of a ballot on his leadership, the Prime Minister will make it clear that his Government plans to focus on policies that can win the next election for the Conservatives

Despite the threat of a ballot on his leadership, the Prime Minister will make it clear that his Government plans to focus on policies that can win the next election for the Conservatives

The review will look at ways of replicating good leadership across the NHS, and ensuring that the best leaders are attracted to the health service.

The Government will also expand on its plans to extend the right to buy, one of Margaret Thatcher’s flagship policies.

Mr Johnson wants to make it easier for people who live in housing association properties to buy their own homes. A No 10 source said: ‘This week the Prime Minister will be focusing on important issues the public want us to address, such as the NHS, the cost of living, and housing.’

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged Mr Johnson to unveil more traditional Conservative policies, such as tax cuts.

He said: ‘Will the Conservative Government please stand up. Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party need to stand up and become Conservative in government.

‘Those in the squeezed middle have seen taxes rise dramatically. The Conservatives need to cut taxes to ease the pain of the crisis.’

In a speech this week, Mr Johnson will say that he wants 2.5million people who rent housing association properties to have the chance to buy their homes at a discount.

He is also expected to signal his support for the construction of more ‘flat-pack’ homes.

Under the right-to-buy policy, tenants living in council houses can get a discount of up to 70 per cent of the market price, depending on how long they have lived there, or a maximum of £87,200, rising to £116,200 in London. There is a less generous scheme for renters of housing association properties, with a discount of between £9,000 and £16,000.

Mr Johnson is said to want to offer these tenants a bigger discount

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged Mr Johnson to unveil more traditional Conservative policies, such as tax cuts

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged Mr Johnson to unveil more traditional Conservative policies, such as tax cuts

This week ministers will also update the public on how the NHS is delivering the ‘biggest ever catch-up programme’, with a vast expansion in scans and tests in community clinics. Since February the number of patients waiting more than two years for treatment has more than halved.

Sir Gordon’s findings on the NHS come after a sharp increase in central bureaucracy in the NHS. The doubling in the numbers working in NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care – with the biggest rises seen at the highest levels – over the last two years come at a time when the nursing workforce rose by just 7 per cent.

The figures show the central workforce rose from 7,883 to 14,515, with the number of senior officials rising by 125 per cent, as the pay bill went from £42million to £83million.

Sir Gordon is also understood to be concerned that too much NHS management energy is focused on immediate and short-term tasks, with too little attention paid to the long-term agenda.

Fury over rebels’ dossier of doom

By Daniel Martin Policy Editor for the Daily Mail

Tory rebels came under fire last night after they spent the Jubilee weekend sharing a document that argues the only way to win the next election is to ‘remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister’.

The paper, entitled Party Leadership, has been sent to a number of MPs who are considering submitting a letter of no confidence in the PM.

It says the only way to ‘end this misery’ is to remove Mr Johnson, who it claims is ‘no longer an electoral asset’.

The document adds that public anger over Partygate is not going to go away, with the prospect of anti-Tory tactical voting leading to a ‘landslide’ for Labour.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticised the rebels, saying: ‘It is sad that during the course of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, some MPs took it upon themselves to drag internecine Conservative politics into the mix.

‘It showed no respect for this great moment of celebration.’ It is not known who has circulated the briefing document, but key rebel leaders are understood to include former chief whip Mark Harper and Aaron Bell, an MP who was only elected in 2019.

Key rebel leaders are understood to include former chief whip Mark Harper

Key rebel leaders are understood to include former chief whip Mark Harper

While Mr Harper is said to be concentrating on converting older MPs to the anti-Johnson cause, Mr Bell is working on the more recent Tory intake.

Mr Harper is chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, which called for looser restrictions during the pandemic. His opposition to lockdown explains his anger at the revelations of a party culture in No 10 while there were curbs for the public.

Mr Bell was denounced as a ‘turncoat’ by one Cabinet minister at the weekend. The minister said he only won his Newcastle-under-Lyme seat – the first Tory to do so for more than 100 years – because of Mr Johnson’s popularity. Andrew Bridgen, another prominent rebel, revealed the existence of the briefing in a blog yesterday. He said: ‘Unfortunately it is hard for me to disagree with its content. It would be a huge mistake to ignore the mood of the nation.’

Last night Tory MP Brendan Clark-Smith said: ‘This is not a week for politicians to be talking about themselves.’

And fellow Tory MP Mark Jenkinson added: ‘I don’t know what drives a tiny minority of my colleagues to do the Labour Party’s bidding, but I do know that we have the Prime Minister and his Cabinet behind us in our mission to deliver on our 2019 promises. Every single seat of our historic majority was won with Boris Johnson at the helm.’

The document, which covers one side of A4, states: ‘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. At least 160 MPs are at risk.’ It adds: ‘The only way to end this misery, earn a hearing from the British public, and restore Conservative fortunes to a point where we can win the next general election, is to remove Boris Johnson.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk