A confidence vote in the prime minister could be announced this week as Boris Johnson’s allies appeared to brace for a test of his leadership.
The minister admitted the Conservative Party “might” hold a vote on whether or not to keep Johnson as leader, but backed him to “face up” with the rebels who were calling on him to quit.
Nearly 30 Tory MPs have publicly urged the Prime Minister to step down amid the fallout from revelations about Downing Street parties held during the lockdown.
But reports have suggested more MPs want him private and enough letters have been sent to demand a confidence vote to spark such a confrontation.
Under Conservative Party rules, if 54 letters from MPs are sent to Sir Graham Brady – the 1922 chairman of the Backbench Tories Committee – requesting a leadership poll, a vote is taken.
Only Sir Graham knows how many letters have been received, but he does not reveal the number until after he publicly declares that the threshold has been reached.
In addition to issues in his back seat, Mr Johnson also faced public backlash over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, including booing by some sections of the crowd Friday during his arrival at a thanksgiving service for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Tory fears about their leader’s position among the public were also likely fueled by polls conducted ahead of the Wakefield by-election in JL Partners.
The survey found that the Conservatives could lose the key battlefield seat, one of dozens of Labor constituencies Johnson took in the so-called Red Wall during his landslide 2019 general election, by as much as 20 points to the party’s party. Sir Keir Starmer. this month.
With Tiverton and Honiton by-election on the same day, June 23, as Wakefield, Johnson faces the prospect of losing seats to Labor in the north of England and the Liberal Democrats in the south west.
The by-elections will be the first electoral test for the ruling party since senior official Sue Gray’s inquiry into coronavirus-violating events in No. 10 and Whitehall was published last month.
Ms Gray exposed the details of raucous celebrations, while also discovering that the Prime Minister had attended a number of farewell rallies for assistants, delivered speeches and participated in drinking alcohol despite telling the public not to get sick and dying. see loved ones to stop the spread of the virus.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is considered one of Johnson’s closest allies in cabinet, told the BBC on Sunday morning that he did not think the prime minister would undergo a confidence test.
However, Secretary of State Paul Scully told Channel 4 hours later it “might just happen”, in a possible signal that his supporters are preparing to announce a poll.
He told The Andrew Neil Show: “We may very well have a vote of confidence.
“If it happens, the Prime Minister, I know, will face it.”
Mr Scully said that regardless of the outcome of a potential vote, the party should move on to address the “big things” facing the country, admitting that the so-called partygate affair had “stretched too long “.
Reports have suggested Sir Graham could announce a leadership vote as soon as possible on Monday, with the secret ballot being submitted for Wednesday.
If half of MPs vote they have no confidence in Johnson’s leadership, he will be impeached.
But as the rules now stand, if Mr Johnson wins a confidence vote, he cannot be challenged again for 12 months.