Tory rebels claim to be forced to vote on Johnson’s future

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson will embark on a battle for political survival, as Tory MPs announce they are about to trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister over parties accused of being ousted. Downing Street lock.

Johnson will try to contain the uprising by announcing the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the UK – a move popular with Tory MPs – but one ally says there is a “50-50 chance” that he could soon face a vote of confidence.

The Prime Minister is facing a new threat from Conservative MPs elected in 2019, many from the so-called red wall seats in the north of England who met on Tuesday to discuss the future. of the prime minister after the incident The “party” scandal.

Downing Street is worried about the prospect of an uprising in the North, and some rebel Tory MPs claim they will soon have the 54 letters needed to trigger a vote of confidence in Johnson. “Nearly,” said one.

The party’s whips don’t deny that Johnson’s future may be coming to an end soon, but a cabinet minister loyal to the Prime Minister insists that the red wall rebels will not succeed, saying: “They still have to. shortage experience. It won’t be much. “

Johnson is under increasing pressure about his attendance at Downing Street garden party “bring your own wine” during Britain’s first strike in May 2020, with some MPs refusing to accept his claim that he considered it a “business event”.

On Wednesday, Johnson will play what many see as his trump card as he tries to find a way out of his politics, laying out a plan to end many of the UK’s Covid-19 restrictions when they expire. legal on January 26.

Work-from-home guidance and the use of Covid cards to attend major events are expected to end, while the cabinet will consider the future role of masks in public places.

Johnson will welcome the lifting of most restrictions – some requirements such as self-isolation for those with coronavirus will remain in place – as a testament to the mass Covid vaccine booster campaign he has launched. monitor.

There has been a recent trend towards improvement in Covid infection rates and hospitalization rates after the Omicron coronavirus variant swept the country.

On Tuesday, 94,432 new cases reported in the most recent 24-hour period, down 22% from the same day last week. According to the latest NHS data.

The lifting of Covid restrictions will be welcomed by many Tory MPs but, during the prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson will face another barbecue during the lockdown party.

His problems grew further after the announcement by Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser, that the prime minister had been warned in advance that the Garden No 10 party would break Britain’s embargo rules in May 2020.

The Prime Minister looked dejected during an appearance on Sky television, saying: “Nobody told me that what we are doing is against the rules, that the event in question is something. it’s not a work event.”

The interview appeared to worsen the MPs’ temper. A member of the government described Johnson’s interview as “brutal” and “hard to watch”. Another Tory senior said: “He looks broken. You can see it in his eyes. ”

Lord Gavin Barwell, former prime minister Theresa May’s chief of staff, said Johnson’s comments were “hopeless”. He added: “No one should have told him that it was against the rules for a lot of people to get together to drink outside. He made the rules.”

Johnson tried to defuse the growing rebellion with an impromptu meeting Tuesday night with members of the 2019 intake.

One MP present said: “I still support him [Johnson]”, adding that it was prepared to await the results of a government party report by senior civil servant Sue Gray before making a decision on whether to send a letter.

Another said that Johnson pleaded with MPs present on how to fix the situation by asking: “What do I need to do?”

Rishi Sunak, prime minister, and Dominic Raab, deputy prime minister, indicated that Johnson would have to resign if he was found to have deceived parliament about Downing Street parties held during coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Raab said lying to parliament would be “normal” as a matter of resignation. Sunak urged people to wait for Gray’s report but said “the department’s code is clear” on the matter of lying. Sunak stepped out of a television interview when pressed for the prime minister position.

About 20 Conservative MPs taking part in parliament at the 2019 election gathered to discuss Johnson’s future, and one of those present said: “The mood is pretty bleak.”

Christian Wakeford, Tory MP for Bury South, said he had sent a letter asking for a vote of no confidence in Johnson to Sir Graham Brady, the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee chairman.

“I believe a lot of people have joined and we are going to be 30 years old,” said one senior Conservative. Some believe there will be more mail once the Gray report is complete.

According to people familiar with the situation, Gray’s report on government parties likely won’t be released until next week, as her team of investigators is struggling to deal with the ongoing allegations. . Cummings confirmed that he will be interviewed by Gray.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt, a former Tory minister who challenged Johnson for party leader in 2019, hinted in an interview with The House Magazine that he would run for re-election in a contested election. election in the future.

Additional reporting by Oliver Barnes in London

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