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Johnson Battles to Save Career With Speech to MPs: Tory Update

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the National Service of Thanksgiving to Celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen at St Paul's Cathedral on June 3, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a confidence vote on Monday after scores of his MPs submitted letters calling for him to step aside. 

The secret ballot will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Westminster, with the result due to be announced at 9 p.m. Before that, Johnson is addressing the party in a last-ditch attempt to persuade his critics.His premiership is unraveling less than a year after his boosters were talking of a decade in power that would reshape the country after Brexit, his signature achievement. While the 57-year-old prime minister’s supporters are insisting he’ll win the vote, history suggests that even that is unlikely to restore his authority and give the government a renewed long-term outlook.

Key Developments:


How the Conservatives Could Sack Boris Johnson | Tory MPs who aren’t happy with their leader submit letters of no confidence

Johnson Tries to Convince Tories (4:20 p.m.)

Boris Johnson is addressing his MPs ahead of the crunch vote. He is expected to tell them that the party is a force for good when united, and while reminding them that he delivered the Tories’ biggest electoral win for 40 years under his leadership, according to a person familiar with the matter.

He is also expected to warn against the return of “hellish groundhog” debates about Brexit, a reference to Tory rebel Tobias Ellwood’s call for the UK to rejoin the European Union’s single market.

Tory Members Narrowly Back Keeping Johnson (3:20 p.m.)

A snap YouGov poll showed just over half of Conservative party members say MPs should not vote to oust Johnson as prime minister, with 42% saying he should be removed. The survey of 506 grassroots Tories also put Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the most popular successors if Johnson loses.

If Johnson were to win the vote of confidence but by a small margin, 39% of members think he should resign anyway, with 58% saying he should stay on, according to YouGov.

Brady to Announce Result at 9 p.m. on Monday (3 p.m.)

Senior Conservative MP Graham Brady will announce the result of the confidence vote at 9 p.m., moments after he messages the prime minister.

If Johnson wins, the current rules mean he cannot face another confidence vote within a year, although the rules can be changed in theory. If Johnson loses, he cannot run again in the follow-up leadership contest, according to a Conservative Party official. A vote on the next leader of the party will likely be concluded in one to three months.

The threshold of at least 54 MPs — 15% of the Conservative total — to trigger a leadership vote was met Sunday afternoon, according to the official, and Johnson was informed shortly afterward.

Attacks on Johnson’s Opponents Risk Backlash (2:25 p.m.)

Nadine Dorries, who as Johnson’s culture secretary, has been one of his fiercest defenders unleashed a series of tweets trashing the record of Jeremy Hunt, after Hunt called for the prime minister to be ousted (see 11:25 a.m.). She accused Hunt of “duplicity” and of “destabilizing the party and country to serve your own personal ambition.”

With Dorries known to be close to Johnson, it raised speculation in Westminster that he might have sanctioned the attack. If Johnson is associated with such heavy-handed tactics, it could drive wavering Tories into the rebel camp.

Tories Chatter About an Early Election or Reshuffle (2:10 p.m.)

Conservative MPs are milling around at Westminster discussing the likely outcome of tonight’s vote. Some are speculating that if Johnson wins by a narrow margin he may call an early general election, echoing a theory that was doing the rounds last week.

In that scenario, the party would likely suffer heavier losses if MPs refused to fall into line so that might help him to re-establish discipline. Others have suggested that Johnson could seek to stamp his authority on the party with a reshuffle of key ministers if he wins.

Davis Says Jubilee Weekend Prompted Move (1:45 p.m.)

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, a leading figure in an attempt to oust Boris Johnson in February, said the long weekend to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne was key to triggering Monday’s vote.

Tory MPs would have heard the criticism of Johnson and partygate over the long weekend in their districts, Davis told Times Radio. He also predicted the prime minister will “hang on” even if he wins by a single vote. “That’s the nature of the man,” he said.

Johnson himself endured booing from crowds and jokes at his expense during the Platinum Jubilee. One of the most humiliating aspects of partygate for the prime minister came when he was forced to apologize to the Queen for a party in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

Gambling Markets Expect Johnson Victory (12:45 p.m.)

Gamblers on the Betfair Exchange, which allows punters to bet against each other at odds they set, clearly expect Boris Johnson to win the confidence vote on Monday night.

The British prime minister is trading at odds of 1.23 to secure the 180 Tory votes to survive, meaning a £1 bet would return £1.23, including the stake. The odds on him losing the vote were 5.1.

Rees-Mogg: Single-Vote Margin Enough for PM (12:25 p.m.)

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said winning by a single vote would give Boris Johnson a mandate to continue, despite previously calling on Theresa May to resign even after she easily won a confidence vote in 2018.

“One is enough. That’s the rule in a democracy — if you win by one you win,” Rees-Mogg said during a broadcast round on Monday. He urged Tory MPs to back Johnson, saying they owed the prime minister for the party’s landslide general election victory in 2019. “A mandate from the British people cannot be taken away lightly.”

Asked about his comments on May, he said he had learned from his mistake.

Johnson’s Anti-Corruption Tsar Resigns (11:30 a.m)

Conservative MP John Penrose, who Johnson appointed to lead on his anti-corruption agenda, has resigned his position, saying the British premier has broken the country’s ministerial code.

“I hope you will now stand aside so we can look to the future and choose your successor,” Penrose said in his resignation letter.

Jeremy Hunt Calls on Johnson to Resign (11:25 a.m.)

Jeremy Hunt, who was foreign secretary in the Tory government toppled by Johnson in 2019, says that anyone who cares about keeping the Conservatives in power at the next election should vote to oust the prime minister.

“Today’s decision is change or lose,” Hunt said in a tweet. “I will be voting for change.”

Hunt has been touted as a potential successor if the party opts to return to its more traditional values after the upheaval of Johnson’s time in office.


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