Boris Johnson will try to save his premiership today as he faces a mounting rebellion from 2019 intake MPs trying to force a no-confidence vote in his leadership of the Conservative party.
Johnson will appear at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) today with rumours swirling that he is about to face an imminent challenge to his leadership in the wake of the Downing Street parties scandal.
In what is being called the “pork pie putsch”, 20 Tory MPs from the 2019 intake yesterday met to discuss sending in letters of no-confidence to the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.
If 54 letters are sent in by Tory MPs to committee chair Graham Brady a no-confidence vote will be held by the Conservative party and it has been speculated that between 20 and 30 have already been sent.
The rebellion is being called the “pork pie putsch” as it is being led by Alicia Kearns – MP for Rutland and Melton – with Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison and West Dorset MP Chris Loder also leading the charge.
It comes as new polling out today from Channel 4 shows the Tories would lose all but three of the 45 Red Wall seats it won off Labour in 2019 if an election was held today.
One of the plotters yesterday told the BBC: “I think we’ve done it, difficult to tell though. Lots of shift today.”
Armed forces minister James Heappey this morning called for “cool heads” among Tory MPs, while also saying he believes the Prime Minister’s claims about not knowing his staff were breaking lockdown-rules.
“I choose to believe what he says, but there will be millions of your listeners who won’t,” he told the BBC.
There was fiercer pushback to the attempted putsch by Johnson loyalists last night, with one cabinet minister telling The Times: “It’s pretty sickening. They were only elected because of him. Most of them are a load of f***ing nobodies. It’s nuts.”
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said “removing Boris Johnson will give us one thing – Keir Starmer as Prime Minister”.
Johnson met with wavering 2019 intake MPs last night in an attempt to win them back onside, with some media outlets claiming he was “in tears” as he apologised to them over the Downing Street party scandal.
The Prime Minister last week all but admitted that his staff broke his own Covid rules with a boozy party on 20 May 2020, but maintained that he thought it was a “work event” in a statement to the House of Commons.
Johnson attended the event in Downing Street’s garden, along with 40 of his staff, for 25 minutes.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief aide, said on Monday that the Prime Minister “lied to parliament” as he was told the event was a party and that it should not go ahead.
Johnson denied the claims in an interview yesterday in which he appeared to almost break down in tears.
“I can tell you categorically that nobody told me and said that this was something that was against the rules, that it was a breach of the Covid rules or we were doing something that wasn’t a work event. Because, frankly … I can’t imagine why on earth it would have gone ahead or why it would have been allowed,” he said.