Boris Johnson should leave as soon as possible, say top Tory MPs | Boris Johnson
Plans to ditch Boris Johnson as Tory leader and prime minister ‘as soon as possible’, without waiting for a clear and obvious successor to emerge, are being advanced by a growing number of senior Tories.
Amid growing concern over the effects the Partygate scandal could have on their electoral chances, senior MPs are urging wavering colleagues not to waver over concerns over succession or Ukraine invasion by Russia, but rather to strike before it is too late.
A former minister told the Observer: “Things have changed. We now have the feeling that we cannot defend what is happening and that we cannot delay any longer because of the succession or Ukraine. If we don’t act well before the party conference in October, it will be too late.
After another disastrous week for Johnson, in which MPs from all parties agreed to launch their own inquiry into whether he deliberately misled Parliament, MPs say several potential successors are stepping up preparations for the campaign and soliciting support, including Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt and Jeremy Hunt. .
Last night Mark Harper, the former Tory chief whip, who last week called for Johnson to leave, told the Observer he understood why some colleagues wanted to delay action until the investigations of the Partygate are terminated, or for other reasons.
But he urged them to trust that an excellent successor would emerge in the process of electing a new leader, even if it was not clear now who that would be.
“I’ve seen enough to come to the conclusion that the prime minister has to go,” Harper said. “My colleagues can be sure that we have very talented people and a very robust process for selecting a new leader which will ensure that we get a capable and credible successor who can present an attractive proposition and guarantee that we can win the next election.”
He added: ‘I think the facts will mean that a majority of Tory MPs will come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister must go.
Another former minister said doubts over the succession were no longer relevant, such was the urgency of the situation. “A broomstick would be better than what we have right now,” he said.
The mood swung dramatically against Johnson last week after he was forced to apologize to the Commons for being fined for attending a lockdown birthday party in 2020, then appeared to support the attempts to order his own MPs to block an investigation into whether he had deliberately misled parliament by previously denying the parties had taken place.
Many Tory MPs are awaiting the results of the May 5 local election before deciding whether or not to send a formal letter of no confidence in Johnson to the chairman of the 1922 backbench committee, Sir Graham Brady. If Brady receives 54 or more such letters, a vote of confidence must take place and if Johnson loses, he must step down.
The issues that have recently engulfed former favorite to succeed Johnson Chancellor Rishi Sunak – over his wife’s tax affairs and the fact that he was also fined for breaking lockdown rules – are considered to have destroyed his chances of following Johnson. in number 10.
Tory peer Lord Hayward agreed the mood had changed and succession issues were less likely to hold MPs back. “I feel like because people have moved from the position they were in to a more skeptical position, they now believe this has to happen – and we’ll have the conversation about ‘who’s next’ when it does. to arrive at. There are people who move, who reach the point of no return, even if they don’t know what the alternative would be. It is only a matter of judging when the time will come.
Another senior Tory MP said: ‘A lot of colleagues who have local elections going on have heard, ‘I like what you are doing as a new MP but we can’t vote for you as long as that idiot talkative is in power”. I spoke to several MPs this week who had all taken their seats from Labour. They all said the situation was terrible. They start saying, it’s not if but when – and it doesn’t matter who, as long as it’s not him.
Johnson insisted on a two-day business trip to India that he would lead his party in the next general election. But the Partygate scandal dogged him throughout the visit. Shortly before he returned to London on Friday, it emerged that the Metropolitan Police had started issuing fines for another party he had attended – in this case a ‘bring your own booze’ garden event on May 20 2020. No 10 said Johnson had not been fined for attending the event, although it was impossible to say whether he would be in the future.
Opposition party leaders said it would be unacceptable for the prime minister to withhold information about whether he had been fined ahead of local elections.
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “There can be no hiding place for breaking the law, and that includes Downing Street. Boris Johnson must keep his promise and declare without hesitation if he is fined again for breaking his own confinement law. He hid the truth from the British public for too long.