Plans by the Tory leadership to shore up Boris Johnson’s popularity among backbenchers with a series of policy announcements have been foiled after it was revealed that a vote of “no confidence” in the prime minister has already been triggered.
Supporters of Johnson in the Cabinet spent last week – while Parliament was in recess – saying there was not enough support for a vote, then did a sharp u-turn last night to admit that one may happen later this week if enough letters arrive with 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.
But this morning (Monday, June 6), Sir Graham announced that he has already received more than enough letters to trigger a vote and it will happen between 6pm and 8pm today:
From what he said, it seemed that Johnson would have an opportunity to speak to Tory backbenchers this afternoon, before the vote takes place – and this has since been confirmed; he’ll make a speech at them, starting at 4pm.
According to the BBC, a spokesperson at 10 Downing Street has said he “welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs”, and that tonight’s vote is “a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on”.
Whichever way the vote goes, that will be true – meaning the government may find itself moving on without its current leader.
Boris Johnson’s team has already sent a message to all the party’s MPs, laying down a series of reasons for them to support him – and they are nonsense.
The document says the government wants to concentrate on the war in Ukraine – in which the UK is not even a participant – and on the cost-of-living crisis at home – that Johnson’s government created.
Judging by his recent record, it seems clear that the current prime minister can only make these matters worse.
The document says Johnson intends to reduce crime – hardly a credible pledge from a PM who has recently been fined for committing a crime, reducing taxes – an incredible claim from the leader who has increased the tax burden on us by more than any other in the last 40 years at least, and cutting NHS waiting times – that Johnson increased exponentially by failing to support the health service properly during the Covid-19 crisis.
On Covid itself, the document claims Johnson dealt with the “biggest peacetime crisis in a generation” with a rapid vaccines rollout and “unprecedented” help for workers and businesses – but we know that he spaffed billions on contracts with fake companies run by crony Conservatives, while starving the NHS of resources, causing the deaths of nearly 200,000 UK citizens who would have been alive today if the country had had a competent leader.
And it says if a full leadership contest is triggered, it will lead to “civil war” in the party, benefiting the Labour opposition – and again, this is not true. The leadership contest that elected Johnson himself was run in an orderly manner over a short period of time and Labour did not enjoy a boost (although this may have been because turncoats in that party were deliberately trying to hinder then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of success).
“Under Boris Johnson’s leadership”, the document states, “we secured the biggest Conservative majority since 1987”. That’s right – because Johnson falsely presented himself as a man of the people. He has since been proved to be out-of-touch with the rest of us and interested only in furthering his own personal ambitions rather than serving the UK.
“We got Brexit done,” the document states, as if shrinking the economy by four per cent, creating huge customs backlogs at our borders, creating an inflationary spiral due to huge goods supply problems and dragging Northern Ireland back towards the bad days of the “Troubles” is an achievement.
“We unlocked more rapidly [after Covid] and restored our freedoms more quickly than other countries” it continues, neglecting to mention that Johnson tried to pull the UK out of lockdown too soon, thereby triggering a huge spike in infections over the winter of 2020-21 that caused tens of thousands more excess deaths than needed to take place.
“We are standing up to Putin, arming Ukraine with huge military support” – that has focused the Russian dictator’s eye on the UK with a view to taking military action against us. Any such action would be like one of us swatting a fly as Russia outguns the UK massively – “and humanitarian help” that is only just beginning to be felt after Tory claims to be the first to provide such help were proven to be false.
“We are delivering cost of living help” after being shamed into a u-turn over a windfall tax on profiteering energy firms to provide the funding for it.
“Boris Johnson has an unmatched electoral record – and he will win again,” the document states at a time when the Tories are living in the shadow of two expected by-election defeats later this month.
The document also states that the controversy over his law-breaking and lying to Parliament is no more than a “distraction” when in fact it proves that he is crooked and corrupt.
Tory backbenchers are also being told that there is no potential leader in Parliament who would be able to take over – but that has already been contradicted by at least one senior member: Sir Roger Gale said he believed there were some “very good alternatives to the prime minister” within the party.
He said: “There is a list of people … Any single one of those people in my view would make a better prime minister than the one that we’ve got at the moment… I think we’re spoilt for choice.”
Another leading Tory, Andrew Bridgen, has said he will be voting against Johnson because the row over Boris Johnson breaching lockdown rules and allowing further breaches by his staff is likely to drag on. “I don’t think people are going to forgive and forget.
“It’s not normal for a Conservative PM to be booed outside St Paul’s Cathedral.”
He also criticised “intimidation within the party to suppress the letters” which triggered the no confidence ballot.
Johnson needs to win support from a majority of Conservative MPs in order to remain in 10 Downing Street – that’s 180 votes or more. At the time of writing, just 50 have declared support for him.
Even if he wins – securing a period of grace (as Sir Graham Brady described it) of one year in which no further ‘no confidence’ vote may be triggered against him, Johnson may still be ejected from Number 10 sooner.
Theresa May won a confidence vote easily in December 2018 – but six months later she was no longer prime minister.
Whatever happens later today, it seems clear that Boris Johnson’s remaining time in 10 Downing Street will be short. Perhaps his party should put us all out of our misery and end it now.
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