Tory whips are said to be discussing how to fight back if rebels trigger a confidence vote after a string of Conservatives have called on the PM to resign.
Tories Andrew Bridgen and Elliot Colburn confirmed on Monday (30 May) that they have handed in no-confidence letters, joining a growing number of colleagues, while Nickie Aiken suggested Mr Johnson should submit himself to a confidence vote to end the “speculation” over his future.
Mr Bridgen emailed his North West Leicestershire constituents to say he has resubmitted his letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson following “further revelations over the past week”, which saw the publication of the long-awaited Sue Gray partygate report.
He originally submitted a letter in January 2022 but withdrew it in March, arguing it was not appropriate to hold a confidence vote amid the fighting in Ukraine.
In his email to constituents, Mr Bridgen said: “I did believe that during the initial stages of the Russia/Ukraine war that it would be wrong to have a leadership contest.
“There have, however, been further revelations over the past week and there is obviously and rightly still a lot of anger about the culture in No 10 during the lockdown period.
“I and colleagues have put in a letter of no confidence over the past few days and it may well be the numbers are close to triggering a vote of no confidence.
“This would give the parliamentary party the opportunity to register whether they believe Boris Johnson is the person to continue leading the party or not.”
Earlier, former attorney general Jeremy Wright said events in Downing Street had caused “real and lasting damage” to the government’s authority and that he had concluded “with regret” that Mr Johnson should go.
No 10 is currently under pressure to say if Mr Johnson’s wife hosted a second lockdown party in the Downing Street flat on the day of the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday.
In her report, Ms Gray said she had only gathered “limited” evidence on the event when she had to stop due to the police investigation, and that she did not consider it “appropriate or proportionate” to resume after officers concluded their inquiry.
Despite the daming details revealed in Ms Gray’s report, Mr Johnson has insisted he still has the support of his party, and he has shown no sign of being prepared to quit.
However, a Conservative Party leadership contest could be triggered if the PM were to lose a confidence vote among his own MPs.
Which Tory MPs want Boris Johnson to resign?
More than 20 MPs have publicly said they want a confidence vote, but it is not clear if all of them have written to Sir Graham.
Other MPs may have also submitted a letter without declaring it, making the exact numbers difficult to know.
A total of 28 Tories want Mr Johnson to leave office immediately, according to a tally by Sky’s politics producer Tom Larkin, while more than 40 Tories have questioned the PM’s position since the publication of Sue Gray’s partygate report last week, Sky News reports.
The Telegraph reported that Conservative whips are now in talks about how to respond if the letter tally reaches 54, which would force 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady to call a vote.
The following MPs have confirmed they have submitted a letter of no confidence:
- Peter Alduous, MP for Waveney
- Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme
- Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East
- Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet
- Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon
- Mark Harper, MP for Forest of Dean
- Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes
- Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley
- Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North
- Gary Streeter, MP for South Devon
- Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley
- David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden
- Steve Baker, MP for High Wycombe
- William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove
- Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
- Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield
- Nick Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
- Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer
- Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford
- John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay
- David Simmonds, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
- Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot
- Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst
- Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton
- Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam
- Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington
- Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire
- John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle
- Dame Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire
What are the Conservative rules for a vote of no confidence?
A total of 54 letters of no confidence from Tory MPs, 15% of the parliamentary party, need to be submitted to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, for a confidence vote to be held.
MPs’ letters are held on file by Sir Graham, unless they are withdrawn, and he keeps a secret running tally of the number. If the 15% threshold is reached, he will announce a no confidence vote.
At least 50% of Tory MPs must vote “no confidence” for the PM to lose and a leadership contest would then be triggered, with Mr Johnson unable to run as a candidate.
Mr Bridgen, who resubmitted his no-confidence letter after withdrawing the original in March due to the invasion of Ukraine, suggested on Monday that the tally may now be “close” to triggering a ballot.
Yet even if a ballot is triggered, 179 of the 357 current Conservative MPs would need to vote “no confidence” to trigger a leadership election.
If Mr Johnson survives the vote, he would be granted a 12-month reprieve from future party no confidence bids.
This article first appeared on our sister site NationalWorld.