So much for Priti Patel’s claim that speculation about a confidence vote in Boris Johnson is a “sideshow”.
So much for Dominic Raab’s claim that such debate was just “Westminster talking to itself”.
Now government ministers are giving up their demand that such a vote simply will not happen and, in a major u-turn, they are accepting that it will.
The big question is: when?
According to the BBC,
Within government, some concede a vote could be triggered in the coming days “by accident” – not because of well organised rebellion from a section of the party, but because enough disparate groups of MPs are fed up enough to submit a no confidence letter.
One of the rebels admitted to the BBC the most likely outcome of a confidence vote this week was a victory for the prime minister – but that Tory MPs couldn’t sit on their hands any longer and wait for the next crisis before making a move.
Others think if a tipping point isn’t reached this week, the best opportunity for rebels could come later this month, after the result of two by-elections triggered by Tory MPs standing down from Parliament.
There is a realistic chance the Conservatives will lose both Wakefield (a previous red wall seat that Labour will want to win back) and Tiverton and Honiton (a previous Tory safe seat in Devon, where many believe the Liberal Democrats are on course for another coup).
If the prime minister was seen to be losing in both the north and the south of England, it would likely lead to more of his MPs concluding he is no longer an election winner who can keep them in power.
Johnson and his supporters are pulling out all the stops to win round the waverers.
In the coming week they will unveil plans to tackle the Covid-19-triggered NHS backlog – but this will just repeat a false claim that unpopular tax increases are being used to cut waiting lists.
And a major review into NHS management will propose an overhaul of NHS leadership structures to helping failing trusts replicate those that are performing best. Another advance for private health structures that benefit nobody but corporate shareholders?
Johnson is also set to launch new “right to buy” home ownership schemes, allowing people who rent from housing associations to buy those houses, for example. This will be a huge political own goal as the original “right to buy” policy championed by Margaret Thatcher created huge housing problems for the UK.
So the government, in trying to neutralise dissent, may in fact cause a larger rebellion with these short-sighted and ridiculous plans.
But This Writer reckons the time for a confidence vote will be after the Tories lose Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton on June 23.
Polling over the weekend has shown the Conservatives on course for a humiliating defeat in Wakefield, and it seems several MPs from the 2019 general election intake have said they will not submit a letter of “no confidence” until after such a result.
According to The Guardian,
“The red wall MPs who are wavering are looking only at Wakefield,” one MP said. “Only then will the penny drop that he is not actually popular at all.”
One minister said the residual loyalty to Johnson was now very thin even among his supporters. “Of course, stuff is going to catch up with him. He’s toast. Everyone is tired of the drama. The only question is whether he manages to get through the election and to be able to get a bit longer in No 10 before we get rid of him. We won’t stand this shit forever.”
One wonders what “shit” that MP is describing – the drama, or the prime minister creating it?
Either way, it seems the best bet is to wait until after the by-elections.
But then there’s the question of whether the vote will be triggered by accident, due to a lack of co-ordination by Tory rebels.
If he wins a “no confidence” vote, his own party will not be able to trigger another one for an entire year.
It seems tragically possible that Johnson could be allowed to continue wrecking the UK because of exactly the kind of incompetence for which he himself is justly infamous.
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