Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is tipped to face a no-confidence vote as ill feeling in grows among Conservative backbenchers about his government’s involvement in the “party gate” scandal.
The vote is expected to be triggered as soon as Monday night (Australian time), after Tory MPs circulated a memo over the Queen’s four-day platinum jubilee weekend listing 13 reasons to dump Mr Johnson as PM
“[The] only way to restore Conservative fortunes to a point where we can win the next general election, is to remove Boris Johnson as prime minister”,” it finished.
Sir Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Party’s powerful 1922 Committee is expected to make a statement about the no-confidence vote later on Monday.
At least 54 Conservative members of parliament are required to formally request a confidence vote to Sir Graham for one to be triggered.
The letters are confidential, so only he knows how many have actually been submitted.
More than 25 Conservative MPs have already called on Mr Johnson to resign, while at least a further six have criticised his conduct but stopped short of saying he should resign.
The likely announcement comes days after Mr Johnson was booed by the crowd outside St Paul’s Cathedral when he attended the service of national thanksgiving for the Queen on Saturday.
He was also reportedly heckled while visiting one of his sons at a London restaurant over the weekend.
Opposition has been growing among the public, and other Tory MPs, amid the fallout from the rule-breaking parties during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Last week, Conservative MP John Stevenson said he had been “deeply disappointed” by the parties and urged Mr Johnson to put himself forward for a vote of confidence as a way to “draw the line” under the issues.
“Sadly, the Prime Minister appears unwilling to bring matters to a head,” Mr Stevenson said in a statement.
“Therefore, the only option is for the Conservative MPs to facilitate a vote of confidence. I have already taken the appropriate action.”
A damning official report published last week detailed a series of illegal parties at Johnson’s Downing Street office during COVID-19 lockdowns, prompting a new wave of calls for Mr Johnson to step aside.
Should Mr Johnson lose a confidence vote, he would be removed as prime minister.
William Hague, who led the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001, said last week Mr Johnson was likely to face a vote of confidence by the end of June – but hinted it could come as early as this week when members of parliament return from recess.
Lord Hague said the report by a senior civil servant into the illegal parties represented a kind of “slow fuse explosion” and with more Conservative MPs publicly criticising Mr Johnson “the fuse is getting closer to the dynamite”.
“Johnson is in real trouble here,” he told Times Radio.
The party was “moving towards, either next week or around the end of June, they are moving towards having a ballot”.
Andrea Leadsom, a former cabinet minister and prominent Brexiteer, accused Mr Johnson of “unacceptable failings of leadership” and said it was “extremely unlikely that senior leaders were unaware of what was going on”.
Ms Leadsom, the former business minister who twice ran to be Conservative Party leader, did not call for Mr Johnson to resign but said individual MPs would need to decide how best to restore confidence in the government.
Science Minister George Freeman, asked on Sky News whether Mr Johnson would win a vote of no confidence, said: “I just don’t know.”
“I don’t know where backbench colleagues are,” he said.