Despite all the exciting guessing games being played in Westminster, nobody really knows how many Tory MPs have written secret letters demanding a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson.
Well, nobody but Tory party backbencher Sir Graham Brady, that is – and he’s not picking up the phone to share his secrets.
What is clear, however, is that the panicked Conservatives writing to the 1922 Committee chief, Sir Graham, to demand a vote on BoJo’s fate are becoming something of a torrent.
Two more made it yesterday to 26 fed Conservatives who have now publicly called for the Prime Minister’s resignation.
And a huge guessing game of who grabs Westminster to see who could make up the 54 needed to spark a wider vote on Boris’ future.
Just six years after David Cameron’s ouster and just three years after Theresa May’s ouster, the Tory party has once again embraced navel-gazing.
And the cast of characters might seem a little familiar.
Serial rebels like Steve Baker and Mark Harper are once again spearheading the coup, and backbencher Andrew Bridgen has now been the first to overdo it in three consecutive coup attempts.
But while the aftermath of the Partygate saga has thrown up the usual suspects, who have hated Boris for ages, a number of ministers he’s personally sacked in recent years have also joined the crowd.
And with the next election just two years away, Southern lawmakers with Liberal Democrats breathing down their necks are panicking.
Meanwhile, the Red Wallers in the North are in a meltdown, being swept away by the tidal wave of inflation.
Everywhere you look, Boris seems to be back in the danger zone.
Take yesterday’s Conservative Home Cabinet ratings, which show the Prime Minister is back in the red after a brief breather in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine.
He has a personal approval rating of -15 given his own party membership, let alone the broader constituency.
Tory Bible editor Paul Goodman told me last night: ‘The threat to the Prime Minister appears to be a drop, drop, drop from ALL wings of the party rather than an organized coup by one faction.
“There will undoubtedly be people who have written different letters than those who have said they will.”
Brady has signaled he will not ruin the Queen’s Jubilee with a big announcement this weekend if the threshold is reached while Parliament is on holiday.
But as another rebel, Tobias Ellwood, said yesterday: “It will be a trying summer” for the government.
Joined the crowd
So what would happen even if the threshold were reached almost by accident?
The magic number for Boris is 180 in a vote of confidence. That’s 50 percent plus one of his 359 Tory MPs.
A win would bury the leadership question for a year – and probably until after the next election.
And the prime minister is actually in a stronger position than he looks, largely because he’s given so many jobs to MPs.
There are currently 173 different cabinet members, ministerial deputies and associated porters on the government ‘payroll’.
It’s a secret ballot, so some will certainly vote against the Prime Minister, but they would vote themselves out of the job.
And despite the overlooked and over-the-top gorge on every passing TV camera, there are still plenty of loyal backbenchers – meaning the odds are in No. 10’s favor
Reasonable critics of Boris know that triggering a confidence vote that the prime minister will win will only weaken the party ahead of the next election, prompting some wiser hands to delay filing a letter.
So No. 10 remains optimistic – confident they would win such a vote.
But there is frustration at what a source close to the prime minister describes as a “bunch of armchair generals delivering watery criticism and cozy recommendations without a coherent plan or alternative vision, team or leader”.
Big “Big Bang”
“We would beat them in a head-to-head battle,” a loyal minister tells me, “but they’ll drag out this one.”
But it’s clear that criticism has come down to a lack of clear vision.
Hurt by Sue Grey’s report, a senior No.10 source insists they are determined to “clean the shit off the deck” and hope for some revealing “wins” in the coming weeks
I can reveal that the Prime Minister plans to give a joint speech with the Chancellor in June to find out how they will deliver on lofty promises to pull the economy out of the cost-of-living crisis.
Expect plenty of infrastructure investment, trade deals and deregulation to save businesses £3bn
At the heart of the growth spurt is cutting the EU’s Solvency II bureaucracy in the insurance market – allowing companies that are freed up to invest up to £20bn in infrastructure.
While it’s technical, ministers hope it could be a big “big bang” for investment in the city.
But the question on the ministers’ lips is, will they come to this speech before a vote comes?
It’s no surprise they’re starting to worry about the UK turning into Australia, where PMs are brutally and regularly dumped at the first whiff of cordite.
“The problem is that we’ve gotten into the habit of regicide,” complains one minister.
“Nothing is being done because we are stuck in the never-ending cycle of leadership speculation.
“Look at how they took out Cameron and May and now they’re trying to take out a third prime minister.
“Getting rid of a PM looks like a principled stance, but three? Maybe they are the problem.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5455463/tories-vote-of-no-confidence-boris-johnson/ Westminster is gripped by a giant game of Guess Who as Tory MPs demand a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson