Boris Johnson, who is embroiled in the Partygate controversy, has been advised that he will have to fight for his political life in the coming weeks, as MPs prepare to force his hand.
His detractors have started working together and are ‘holding back’ until the local election results come in or more fixed penalty notices arrive in the Prime Minister’s inbox.
The Prime Minister was fined by police this week, along with his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, for attending a birthday celebration hosted in his honour in the Cabinet Room in June 2020.
Since the Metropolitan Police launched its investigation into law-breaking parties in Downing Street and across Whitehall, it has issued more than 50 fixed penalty notices.
It was the first time that a serving prime minister was found guilty of breaking the law.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister apologised to Parliament several times, stating that while he did not believe he was breaking any rules at the time, he accepted the force’s decision and wanted to go back to work.
However, Labour called his apology “a joke,” and a number of top Conservatives said it was time for Mr Johnson to leave, citing requests from the SNP and Liberal Democrats.
According to The Sun, a group of Tory rebels have drawn up post-dated letters that will trigger a confidence vote in the House of Commons if enough are sent to the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.
One of the MPs pointed out that he’d written to 1922 Committee leader Sir Graham Brady on May 6, the day after the elections. “I haven’t given it to them yet, but it’s signed, sealed, and ready to go,” he remarked.
MPs must send 54 letters to Sir Graham indicating their desire for a confidence vote in a sitting Prime Minister in order to trigger one. Although the threshold has not yet been crossed, many in the party feel it will be soon.
On Sunday, Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted that the local elections would be “difficult,” but warned MPs that removing Johnson now would be detrimental to the country’s interests.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson’s supporters in No 10 now believe his chances of survival are “50-50.” Mr Dowden told Ridge on Sky News: “I think the uncertainty that would be caused by a change of leader would be dearly damaging to this country.”
Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns stated that Johnson would not resign over Partygate and that the prime minister will “rebuild the links of confidence with the Brits.”
However, Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the Commons defence select committee, pushed dissatisfied Tory MPs to write Johnson a letter of no confidence. “There’s a recognition that every MP now realises it’s up to us to take ownership of this,” said Ellwood. “Because, I’m afraid, the absence of discipline, of focus and leadership in No 10 during that lockdown period has led to a huge breach of trust with the British people.”
Other conservative MPs who are calling publicly for Boris Johnson to step down are Steve Baker, Mark Harper, Craig Whittaker, Nigel Mills, Caroline Nokes, Sir Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall, Peter Aldous and Aaron Bell.