Sleaze, partygate and falling polls spur no-confidence vote on Boris Johnson

Support us and go ad-free

Boris Johnson will face a vote of confidence by Tory MPs on the evening of Monday 6 June. It comes as discontent over No 10’s lockdown-busting parties and the direction of Johnson’s leadership reached a tipping point.

Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, informed Johnson on Sunday 5 June that he’d face the vote. Brady confirmed he had received the 54 letters from Conservative MPs needed to trigger the ballot.

The vote – by secret ballot – will take place at Westminster on Monday between 6pm and 8pm. And the count will take place immediately afterwards.

In order to oust the prime minister, the rebels will need 180 MPs. Although Johnson’s allies have made clear that he’s determined to fight to stay on.

Johnson will address the 1922 Committee on Monday as he battles to save his premiership.

Discontent

A steady stream of Tory MPs called publicly for the prime minister to stand down in the wake of Sue Gray’s report into breaches of coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations in No 10 and Whitehall. Many MPs have referred explicitly to partygate and the prime minister’s own behaviour when calling for a confidence vote.

But there have also been questions from Downing Street standards chief Christopher Geidt over the refurbishment of Johnson’s flat at Number 10 and, later, the response to the Gray report, along with criticism from the public of Conservative MPs’ second jobs.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The discontent goes far wider. In an indication of the anger from the Tory benches, former minister Jesse Norman published a scathing letter on 6 June. He addressed the letter to the prime minister, withdrawing his support. Norman had previously been a long-standing supporter of Johnson.

He said the Gray report showed Johnson “presided over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street”. And he added that for Johnson to describe himself “as ‘vindicated’ by the report is grotesque”.

Policies and popularity

As Norman’s letter made clear, policy issues have also played a role in bringing some MPs to call for Johnson’s resignation.

Norman’s criticism of Johnson included the “ugly” policy of sending asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda, the “unnecessary and provocative” privatisation of Channel 4, the ban on noisy protests which “no genuinely Conservative government” should have introduced, proposals to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the lack of a “sense of mission” in his administration.

Warning that Johnson continuing in office would be “potentially catastrophic for this country”, Norman said:

You are simply seeking to campaign, to keep changing the subject and to created political and cultural dividing lines mainly for your advantage, at a time when the economy is struggling, inflation is soaring and growth is anaemic at best.

And there’s been criticism from hardliners as well, primarily over tax.

Meanwhile, several backbenchers have reportedly been frustrated by an apparent lack of direction, demonstrated by repeated U-turns on policy.

These include the imposition of the windfall tax, the row over sewage discharges into lakes and rivers towards the end of 2021, excluding trans people from a ban on conversion therapy, reforming the planning system, cutting foreign aid to 0.5% of national income, and scrapping the pensions triple lock.

POLITICS Johnson
(PA Graphics)

Finally, there are the electoral implications of Johnson’s continued leadership.

A recent YouGov poll forecast more than 80 Conservative losses in “battleground” seats. Among them was Johnson’s own constituency. This may lead some MPs to conclude that the best chance of saving their jobs is to get rid of Johnson.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us