Senior rebel Tory MPs step up push for vote on party rule change that would allow a second confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson after double by-election loss
- Members of 1922 executive committee want ballot on a second confidence vote
- Calls come after Tories suffered by-election losses in Wakefield and Tiverton
- Similar vote was held under May but she resigned before the threshold was met
Senior rebel Tory MPs are pushing to hold a ‘secret ballot’ on whether party rules should be changed to allow another confidence vote in the Prime Minister.
Spurred on by last week’s double by-election loss, members of the party’s 1922 executive committee, which sets the rules, want a vote on whether to hold another attempt to unseat Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson is safe from another confidence vote for a year after he won one narrowly this month. But this rule can be changed by the 18-strong ruling executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.
Executive members told The Mail on Sunday they supported having a ‘secret ballot’ on the rule change immediately, the outcome of which would only be revealed by chairman Sir Graham Brady if 54 MPs sent letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister. The count for letters calling for the PM to go is reset after each confidence vote.
After last week’s double by-election loss, rebel Tory MPs are pushing to hold a ‘secret ballot’ on whether party rules should be changed to allow another confidence vote in the Prime Minister
A similar secret vote was held by senior 1922 figures under Theresa May. However sources said Sir Graham never revealed its decision because she resigned before the threshold of letters was met.
There are also efforts to flood the 1922 executive committee with anti-Boris MPs, as revealed by the MoS last week.
Vocal critics including Steve Baker and Andrew Bridgen have said they will run for seats on the committee, which is due to hold elections shortly. The timing of the election to senior posts is due to be determined this week.
Insiders said there was support for a secret ballot on changing the rules by the current committee to avoid losing time. The new executive committee could then hold its own ‘secret ballot’, a source said.
Tory whips expect new letters to start piling in after this weekend, when MPs evaluate the losses of Wakefield to Labour and Tiverton and Honiton to the Lib Dems.
Even formerly loyal party donors criticised Mr Johnson following the double by-election loss. One told the MoS that the Prime Minister was ‘no longer Teflon’ following the Tiverton and Honiton result.
Vocal critics including Steve Baker and Andrew Bridgen (pictured above) have said they will run for seats on the committee, which is due to hold elections shortly
Another said: ‘I fear he’s nearing the end.’ Meanwhile, a leading rebel said: ‘We need to move fast. There’s a real prospect Boris will try to call an October election as the only way of trying to save himself. If he came back with a majority of just five or six, he’d settle for that.’
The rebel added that another proposal involves allowing a contest ‘at any time’ – rather than a year after the last vote – but with the threshold of no-confidence letters needed to trigger it doubling each time.
The source said: ‘We’d need 108, and we’d be certain to get that.’
A wider consensus is to hold a confidence vote within six months, following the Commons Privileges Committee’s report into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament.
Several 1922 executive members oppose change, however, with one saying it would be ‘Maoist’.
Boris Johnson is planning to shore up support by hosting a series of barbecues and drinks events at Chequers this summer
- List drawn up of MPs who said they would vote for the PM in a confidence vote
- It comes after a bruising few weeks, which have included by-election losses
- Boris Johnson said every government is ‘buffeted’ by bad by-election results
By Anna Mikhailova For The Mail On Sunday
Boris Johnson is planning a series of ‘barbecues and drinks’ at Chequers for party loyalists to shore up support this summer.
Several barbecues have been lined up at the Prime Minister’s grace-and-favour residence as a reward for loyal supporters.
Insiders said the invitation list has been drawn up specifically to include MPs who publicly said they would vote for the Prime Minister in a confidence vote.
Mr Johnson’s ‘summer sausage offensive’ is planned as several events in the second half of July, insiders said.
It comes after a bruising few weeks for the Prime Minister, which have included 148 of his MPs voting that they have no confidence in his leadership, the publication of Sue Gray’s report into lockdown breaking in Downing Street and by-election losses in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Levi Roots as he hosts a BBQ with NHS staff in the garden of No10 Downing Street to mark National Thank You Day
The Prime Minister yesterday dismissed calls for his resignation, saying voters are tired of hearing about what he is ‘alleged to have done wrong’.
He said every government is ‘buffeted’ by bad by-election results and tried to focus the narrative on his Government’s agenda.
However, one MP last night mocked the barbecue plans, saying that Mr Johnson should focus instead on wooing MPs who are ‘wavering’ instead of those who tweet their loyalty.
Meanwhile, a rebel MP said Mr Johnson’s attempts to woo MPs comes too late for a Prime Minister who has spent too little time ‘in the tea room’ – referring to the members-only zone in Parliament.
A Downing Street source said: ‘This is simply an example of the PM spending time with a range of colleagues to listen to their ideas.’
Mr Johnson is known to put a high price on loyalty and promoting die-hard supporters.
Chequers country home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Buckinghamshire
A planned summer reshuffle is expected to feature demotions or sackings for those who did not pledge public allegiance ahead of the confidence vote, as well as those broadly seen as ‘disloyal’.
Business Minister George Freeman, who was publicly critical over Partygate, Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins, and Treasury Minister John Glen are seen as those who are most likely to be punished.
Meanwhile, it has emerged Mr Johnson planned a £150,000 treehouse in the grounds of Chequers for his two-year-old son Wilf but abandoned the idea after police raised security concerns.
The Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson wanted to build the structure, which included bulletproof glass, in 2020. According to The Times, there were discussions about having Tory donor Lord Brownlow pay for the project.
Asked if a penny of taxpayer or donor money was spent on plans to build a Chequers treehouse, the PM said: ‘I’m not going to comment on non-existent objects or non-existent jobs to do with my family.’
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