While Boris Johnson was in Rwanda, taking an early morning swim in the conference hotel’s luxurious swimming pool, his Tory critics were already planning another bid to oust him.
Backbench plotters had earlier been discouraged by the prospects of ousting Johnson after he narrowly won a vote of confidence from his MPs and the cabinet rallied behind him.
But they have had new hope of withdrawing it in the coming weeks due to renewed anger and disbelief from Tory MPs over the disastrous by-election results, as well as the outrage over attempts to get a job at the government for his then girlfriend and now wife, Carrie Johnson. “It will be a random walk, but we will get there soon,” said a former minister happily.
Johnson’s No 10 aides insist he still has room to turn things around by being ‘humble’ and accepting that more changes need to be made without ‘unduly panicking’ over the mid-term results. journey. However, there was evidence on Friday that even some of Johnson’s former supporters believed his time could soon be up. “It wouldn’t hurt him if he wanted to look in the mirror. He has to ask himself: do I have the stomach for this, and will I be able to do this. Is that me?” said a tall Tory MP who has backed the Prime Minister so far.
Johnson’s Tory critics saw the fall as the next time he could be in danger, when the privileges committee reports whether he has lied to Parliament and therefore breached the ministerial code. However, the rebels now believe there may be two other short-term routes. The first, which many are hoping for, is a cabinet or senior minister walkout, following the resignation of Oliver Dowden as Tory chairman, suggesting that others should realize the party could not” carry on as if nothing had happened”.
The crisis engulfing Boris Johnson’s premiership could be reaching a terminal stage, judging by the press reaction to the Tories’ humiliating double defeats in the by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
The The telegraph of the daythe traditional Tory party voice, caused a stir with the headline “Tory rebels plot next step to overthrow Prime Minister”, and reports that “Prime Minister’s enemies push for control of 1922 committee after by-election defeats” .
The Time has a very similar story under the headline ‘Prime Minister faces new Tory threat’ and quotes a minister saying some disgruntled ministers facing sacking in an upcoming government reshuffle could quit and carry out ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against Johnson.
The Mirror said “Go now,” echoing former Tory leader Michael Howard’s plea that the party would be “better off” if Johnson quit.
Hello and welcome to our live political coverage in the UK as the fallout from the Tories’ double by-election defeat continues.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard was among those calling on the prime minister to step down after losses in Tiverton, Honiton and Wakefield, prompting the immediate resignation of party co-chairman Oliver Dowden.
In his pointed resignation letter, widely seen as a call for others to act, Dowden told the Prime Minister: “We cannot carry on as business as usual. Someone has to take responsibility.
And Johnson also faces unrest on the backbenches, with MPs hoping to secure a majority on the executive of the influential 1922 committee, hoping they can change party rules to allow a new vote of confidence without waiting a year.
The Prime Minister, who is currently in Rwanda, will speak shortly on the BBC’s Today programme. We’ll bring you coverage of that, as well as all the rest of the day’s political news – and coverage of the ongoing rail strikes across the country.