Politics

What MPs are saying about Boris Johnson facing a no confidence vote

Boris Johnson will face a no confidence vote from rebel Tory MPs tonight after facing boos during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks on the phone with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from his office in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Fresh from a weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Conservative MPs awoke full of renewed patriotic vigour on Monday by calling a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The vote will take place in the House of Commons between 6pm and 8pm, with the result expected shortly after. It was triggered after 15 per cent of Tory MPs – at least 54 – wrote to the head of the backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, saying they no longer support Johnson.

In truth, the letters have been dripping in for months after the so-called Partygate scandal threatened to topple Johnson when he was fined by police for attending a party at Downing Street during lockdown.

Brady told the press he had agreed the terms of the vote with Johnson on Sunday, which may have been expected to take the shine off the long weekend somewhat, had he not been booed by crowds when arriving at St Paul’s for a thanksgiving service on Saturday to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.

But how did we get here? And what have MPs been saying? Here’s a look at some of the details shared by MPs as they voice their opposition or support for a PM in trouble.

To prolong this charade… insults the electorate

Among the Tory rebels is Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. The former energy minister may not be known to many outside of his constituency but, he published a scathing letter of no confidence on social media on Monday morning.

He wrote: “Neither the Conservative Party nor this country can afford to squander the next two years adrift and distracted by endless debate about you and your leadership.

“For you to prolong this charade by remaining in office not only insults the electorate, and the tens of thousands of people who support, volunteer, represent and campaign for our party; it makes a decisive change of government at the next election much more likely.

“That is potentially catastrophic for this country.”

‘End this misery’

A briefing document which appeared to originate from the Conservative Campaign Headquarters laid out in eye-watering detail why many in the party think Johnson’s time is up.

Circulated among MPs while Johnson was enjoying the Jubilee, the author went in to detail about why the PM is “no longer an electoral asset” and would lead the party to defeat at the next general election in 2024.

It described Partygate as a “major breach of trust with the British population” amid concerns that allegations could continue to dog the PM, adding: “Boris Johnson cannot win their trust back and they will discount anything a Government led by him promises.”

In bold, the first page concluded: “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 as Prime Minister”. The author underlined this final point, in case the message wasn’t clear.

Former Health Secretary and Tory leadership rival Jeremy Hunt has said he will vote against Johnson, tweeting that the Conservative Party is “no longer trusted by the electorate” and is “not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country”.

The Jubilee crowd’s jeers for Johnson had echoes of ex-Chancellor George Osborne facing boos at the London 2012 Olympic Games, although the Tories won the general election three years later.

Asked about the booing on Sky News, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “…no politician is universally loved, it won’t be the first time a politician is booed and there will be much of that for many politicians down the line.

“I think people are perfectly entitled to their views, but what’s more important is to have a Prime Minister that’s getting on with the job, that’s delivering for the country, and that’s what we have.”

Cabinet ministers come out in support of Johnson

Already some 30 Tory MPs have publicly called for him to go, but Johnson is unlikely to face dissent from high profile Cabinet ministers. Johnson will remain as leader if fewer than 180 of his own MPs vote against him.

Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss, widely seen as a potential Tory leadership rival, has tweeted her support for the Prime Minister.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Housing Secretary Michael Gove also tweeted their support.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has yet to issue a statement.

If Johnson wins the no confidence vote, rebels MPs will not be able to bring another one for at least one year.

Theresa May won a no confidence vote brought against her in 2018, but quit the role a year later triggering the leadership election won by Johnson. Margaret Thatcher was effectively removed from office after winning a no confidence vote but being warned that she would lose a second one.

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