26 April 2022 | NEWS
A group of rebel Conservative MPs are allegedly plotting to oust the Prime Minister after the local council elections being held on 5 May, as it is projected the party are set to lose 800 seats across the country.
The i reports that backbenchers are organising “co-ordinated action” to remove Boris Johnson if the Conservative Party performs poorly next month.
It comes as Johnson has been bearing the brunt of widespread criticism over the Government’s Partygate scandal.
Last week, the Commons passed a Labour motion to refer accusations that the Prime Minister deliberately misled Parliament over revelations about lockdown parties in Downing Street to the Commons Privileges Committee.
These allegations have caused Opposition parties to renew their calls for Johnson’s resignation, alongside some Conservative backbenchers publicly declaring their loss of confidence in the Prime Minister.
After receiving a fine over breaking lockdown rules in Downing Street, along with his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, it has been reported that the Metropolitan Police is set to issue at least three other fines to Johnson due to other alleged occasions when he breached lockdown restrictions.
There are reports that plotters are encouraging rebel MPs to “strike” following the council elections next month if more Partygate fines are issued, in order to “maximise success”.
One source said: “They are working together more now. One Nation and 2019 [intake] Tory MPs are more co-ordinated.”
Earlier this year, there were attempts by some rebel Tory backbenchers to bring down the Prime Minister over Partygate criticism by submitting letters of no confidence to the Chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
However, these attempts were unsuccessful because not enough letters were submitted to Brady, meaning that a party-internal vote of no confidence in Johnson could not be held. In order to invoke such a vote, a total of 54 letters must be submitted to the Committee Chair.
Some Johnson supporters, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, argue it is not the “right time” to oust a Prime Minister due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. This was also the reason given by Scottish Tories leader, Douglas Ross, for withdrawing his letter of no confidence to Brady.
The alleged plot to depose Johnson comes after an article branded “mysogynistic” in The Mail on Sunday, in which an unnamed Conservative MP accused the Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner, of using tactics to distract the Prime Minister in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs – likened to a scene in the film Basic Instinct.
The Prime Minister has condemned the article, along with many other MPs and journalists, as being “the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe”.
In response to the controversial article, Johnson threatened to unleash “the terrors of the Earth” on the source behind the comments if they were ever identified.
“If we ever find who is responsible for it, I don’t know what we will do, but they will be the terrors of the Earth. It’s totally intolerable, that kind of thing,” he said.
The claims were not made in the Prime Minister’s name, which he also confirmed to Ms Rayner in a private exchange following the publication of the article.
Meanwhile, IPSO has said it is exploring potential breaches of clauses one (accuracy), three (harassment) and 12 (discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, following more than 5,000 complaints about the MoS article to the press regulator.