Boris Johnson urged to call a Tory leadership vote HIMSELF

Boris Johnson urged to call a Tory leadership vote HIMSELF before crunch June 23 by-elections to force the hand of ‘self-indulgent narcissists’ acting against him – as he delays summer reshuffle while he tries to hold party together

  • Priti Patel told plotters attempting to remove Boris Johnson to ‘forget it’ 
  • The Home Secretary led Cabinet ministers in rallying around the Prime Minister
  • She said that voters will not forgive the Tory party if it descends into civil war
  • Cabinet ministers have dismissed suggestions PM could face a confidence vote 
  • Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service

Boris Johnson has been urged to force the hand of ‘self-indulgent narcissists’ trying to topple him by calling for a vote on his leadership, as allies of the embattled Prime Minister rallied around him.

Amid claims that the number of backbench rebels prepared to demand he goes could reach critical mass next week, Cabinet ministers are said to have suggested he try to catch them off-guard.  

The PM believes he will survive a confidence vote, it is understood, and some Cabinet ministers privately want him to ‘force the issue’ by holding a vote ahead of two by-elections on June 23 to limit the number of rebels. 

The results in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton could push more wavering backbenchers into open rebellion if they are bad for the party amid the fallout from Partygate. 

One Cabinet minister told the Times: ‘He doesn’t care whether he wins by 100 or 10. He will plough on. Colleagues are frothing at the mouth in a way the public is not.’

Mr Johnson is also believed to have delayed plans for a Cabinet reshuffle this month as he seeks to keep senior ministers and lower ranks onside.

Changes were mooted after the May local elections, but they are now expected no earlier than July, with a source telling the Telegraph they were still ‘only just sweeping the debris off the deck’ after the Sue Gray report reopened Partygate wounds.     

Last night Priti Patel led Cabinet ministers in rallying around the PM and told plotters aiming to remove him from power to ‘forget it’.

Amid claims that the number of backbench rebels prepared to demand he goes could reach critical mass next week, Cabinet ministers are said to have suggested he try to catch them off-guard.

 

Line of duty: Priti Patel yesterday walking in Pall Mall, central London

Tory rebels think they could get enough support for a confidence vote next week, and the Prime Minister is said to be increasingly frustrated with open rebellion among some Tory politicians.  

But the Home Secretary has warned MPs that voters will not forgive the party if it descends into civil war instead of tackling issues such as the cost of living crisis.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, she denounced those writing no confidence letters as creating a ‘sideshow’ rather than finding solutions.

Mr Johnson asked what the ‘point’ of a vote would be while discussing the issue with colleagues, and one ally said: ‘There’s no alternative strategy, no alternative plan, no big ideological divide. 

‘MPs have been telling us for weeks that we need to focus on cost of living pressures.

‘Would it not be the most self-indulgent, narcissistic and contemptuous thing to decide that now is the time for another three months of Conservative navel-gazing?’

It comes after Cabinet ministers yesterday dismissed suggestions Mr Johnson could face a confidence vote from Tory MPs next week following the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries warned a challenge would be an ‘indulgence’ as she accused plotters of doing Labour’s work for them.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ‘vast majority’ of Tories want Mr Johnson to ‘get on with the job’ as he rejected claims the rebels have the numbers to remove him.

And Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, said the PM should not resign as ‘the country is lucky to have him’.

Their support came just a day after Dame Andrea Leadsom criticised the PM over Partygate while MP John Stevenson announced he was writing a letter of no confidence.

On a visit to The Mall yesterday to see police preparations for the Jubilee, Miss Patel urged her Tory colleagues not to overshadow the celebrations with rows over leadership.

‘Events like this are about celebrating our country, our nation, our values, and our monarchy. This is about Her Majesty the Queen – I think that’s where all the focus should be,’ she told the Mail.

‘Just coming here, the mood, you can see the heart and soul of the nation will be lifted. This weekend is going to be all about the long-standing dedicated service that Her Majesty the Queen has given that nation. Everyone should rally behind that.’

Miss Patel urged Tory rebels and those who see themselves as leadership contenders to stop creating a distraction, adding: ‘Our job is to deliver for the people. End of story.

‘This isn’t about a parade [of leadership candidates] or a contest or letters. We need to concentrate on doing our jobs. Look at what is going on in the world right now, look at the challenges that we face domestically. We can’t ignore those.

‘Writing letters is a sideshow, quite frankly, rather than focusing on the real challenges that we have to find solutions to.’

She urged MPs wanting to get rid of Mr Johnson to ‘forget it’ as she praised his role on the international stage. ‘Look at our standing in the world when it comes to Russia and Ukraine,’ she said. ‘Look at the leadership that has been provided.

‘Our job is to deliver on the people’s priorities. They won’t thank the Conservative Party for talking about itself at a time when people have anxieties, concerns, apprehensions. Our job is deliver for them.’

Miss Patel urged Tory rebels and those who see themselves as leadership contenders to stop creating a distraction. Pictured yesterday in Green Park, London

She added: ‘[Mr Johnson] is the man that won us the election, a man that has worked hard to deliver for us right now. There’s no question about that. But on top of that, he’s a man that’s focused on the people’s priorities and this government is focused on the people’s priorities.’

Under Conservative Party rules, Mr Johnson will face a confidence vote if 54 Tory MPs write to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, demanding one.

Critics would then need more than half of the party’s MPs to support removing him.

Mr Raab yesterday said he did not believe a vote will be triggered next week as he ‘doubts’ there are even 40 letters in. He also dismissed suggestions Mr Johnson could call an early election as ‘highly unlikely’.

Mrs Dorries also claimed efforts to topple Mr Johnson were being co-ordinated by a handful of ambitious individuals. Asked who was behind the campaign, she told BBC Radio 4 she had ‘no idea’ but said ‘the overwhelming number’ of Conservative MPs back the PM.

  • ONE of the plotters attempting to topple the PM has called for the UK to rejoin the EU’s single market to ease the cost of living crisis.

In an article for the Politics Home website, Tobias Ellwood said the Brexit deal had ‘strangled’ industry. He added that economic challenges ‘would disappear’ if a softer model was used. 

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