Boris Johnson: More Tory MPs submit no confidence letters as pressure to oust PM mounts

In the midst of "partygate", Boris Johnson is clinging onto his premiership, with an announcement to ease COVID restrictions coming later today.

A number of letters of no confidence from the 2019 intake of MPs have been submitted - part of the 'pork pie plot'. File pic

The threat to Boris Johnson's leadership has ramped up today as more Conservative MPs said they have submitted letters of no confidence in the PM.

Around 12 more letters were handed in this morning, according to Sky News political correspondents Sam Coates and Joe Pike.

They were from MPs who were part of a group of about 20 first voted in at the 2019 general election, many in traditionally "red wall" Labour seats in the North.

Pork pie plot

The MPs met last night to discuss their support of Mr Johnson after he claimed on Tuesday "nobody told me" the Number 10 lockdown garden party in May 2020 was against the rules.

The mutiny by the 2019 intake of Conservative MPs has been branded the "pork pie plot", as one of the MPs is Alicia Kearns, the MP for Rutland and Melton, home of the Melton Mowbray pork pie.

Several other letters are understood to have been submitted ahead of today, with a handful of Conservative MPs confirming to Sky News they have done so.

The letters have been handed to Sir Graham Brady, head of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, who is the only person that knows exactly how many have been submitted.

For a Tory PM to be ousted, Sir Graham needs to receive letters from 15% of Conservative MPs, which at the moment is 54.

When that number is reached, a vote on the PM's leadership will be triggered. There are reports this could happen as early as today.

Operation Red Meat and dire polls

Mr Johnson will face MPs at Prime Minister's Questions at midday, where his future will almost certainly be raised.

After PMQs, Mr Johnson is expected to announce an easing of England's Plan B COVID restrictions from next Wednesday, which some have said is part of Operation Red Meat - a flurry of policy announcements designed to revive the PM's fortunes.

In a YouGov poll published just before Mr Johnson's interview yesterday in which he said nobody told him the garden event was a party, 64% of Britons said they think the PM should stand down, up from 48% in November.

And a poll by JL Partners for Channel 4 found the Conservatives would lose all but three of the 45 "red wall" seats gained from Labour in 2019 if a general election was held now.

Wait for Sue Gray report

Despite letters being submitted, many Conservative MPs, including ministers, have insisted the investigation into Downing Street parties by top civil servant Sue Gray needs to be concluded before they can make a judgement on Mr Johnson. It is due to be finished next week.

Ahead of PMQs, James Heappey, armed forces minister and the PM's former parliamentary private secretary, defended Mr Johnson, saying he could see how the prime minister would have been whisked into the event in his garden.

He told Sky News: "I can perfectly imagine from having worked closely with him and in Number 10 exactly how this happened.

"He will have been grabbed from his office at the end of a busy day of very significant decisions around the pandemic and everything else that was going on in the world and will have been launched into an event which he himself said at the dispatch box in hindsight he should've shut down immediately."

 

Source: Sky News

https://news.sky.com/story/boris-johnson-more-tory-mps-submit-no-confidence-letters-as-pressure-to-oust-pm-mounts-12519687

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