Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Tom Tugenhat and foreign secretary Liz Truss are among the frontrunners who could replace Boris Johnson
Image: via REUTERS)
Tory defector Christian Wakeford says Boris Johnson is on borrowed time as half a dozen leadership hopefuls line up to do the dirty on the Partygate PM.
Writing in the Sunday Mirror today, the Bury South MP – who joined Labour last week – said: “The PM has poisoned the Tory Party from top to bottom. Britain deserves better. It is time for Boris Johnson to go.”
The Prime Minister faces yet more Partygate grief this week when a report into lockdown gatherings at No10 is published.
One MP also plans to speak to the police about allegations of blackmail.
The threat of a vote of no confidence is still hanging over Mr Johnson – and six of his top colleagues are now vying to take his job. Some have even started raising campaign funds.
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But Trade minister Penny Mordaunt and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi are also in the running, along with Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – favourite among Tory party members.
It will be a knock-out contest before the last two standing face a members’ vote.
One MP said: “There will be a lot of tactical voting. Most of us think it will be a disaster if Liz makes the last two as she’s sure to get in.”
But supporters of Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt have agreed a “non-aggression pact” to ensure she is squeezed out.
Tory MPs’ shop steward Sir Graham Brady needs 54 letters of no confidence before a vote can be held on whether to replace the Prime Minister.
But the chair of the backbench 1922 committee has received more than 1,000 others – many from lifelong Conservatives – who say they will never vote for the party again.
One signed by John, from Stirling, wrote: “I have voted Tory for over 50 years. No longer. I am disgusted with them.”
And Douglas, of Orpington, Kent, said: “On the night of Johnson’s ‘work meeting’ my 12-year-old grandson was in A&E suffering long Covid. Bring this tawdry chapter in the party’s history to an end.”
The crisis deepened today after William Wragg, chair of the Commons Public Administration Committee, confirmed he will speak to police about allegations that Tory whips “blackmailed” MPs.
Mr Wakeford revealed: “Gavin Williamson told me I wouldn’t get a promised new school in Bury South if I voted the wrong way.”
Chair of the Standards Committee, Labour’s Chris Bryant, said that if the claim is true, it could lead to charges of misconduct in public office.
Most Tories are waiting for Sue Gray’s report into the No10 parties before deciding their next move – and they are furious that some MPs rushed in letters last week.
Ms Gray has reportedly found an email warning the PM’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, against holding a drinks party at No10 in the first lockdown.
Mr Johnson – who said he spent 25 minutes at the do thinking it was a work event – will speak to MPs this weekend to try and shore up support.