‘No one wants to step up’: Conservative rebels fear Johnson will escape leadership vote

Conservative MPs hoping to force a no-confidence vote on Boris Johnson fear that a leader’s failure to step up to stage a challenge will allow him to escape.

Rebel Tories have said the independent of his growing despair at his colleagues’ refusal to “face” the crisis in his party, highlighting the absence of a figurehead to coordinate a campaign and rally skeptics.

A former minister expressed astonishment that Johnson had avoided a reckoning despite “disastrous” local election results, but warned: “There is no leadership; no one wants to step forward.”

A second echoed that “nobody wants to be seen as leading” a plot against the prime minister, adding: “Colleagues know you can’t go [on like] this, but they all look at their feet when I ask them what we are going to do.”

A third said there was hope that Jeremy Hunt, the defeated 2019 leadership candidate who opposes holding a contest as the war rages in Ukraine, would speak up, asking: “Who is going to lead the letter writing?” ?”.

Another former minister has told his constituents that the push to unseat Johnson has “failed” because his fellow MPs have remained silent.

the independent he was told of a recent private meeting where a group of Conservative MPs “complained about Boris”, only to join in the laughter when the prime minister joined the meeting and joked.

There are fears it will be impossible to defend Johnson at the door if Sir Keir Starmer resigns over his beer and curry gathering in Durham last year, which he has promised to do if he is fined by police.

“How will I face my constituents if Starmer resigned but our leader, despite multiple fines, is still there?” said one of the former ministers.

Jeremy Hunt is against holding a leadership contest as the war in Ukraine continues


The growing frustration comes after the event thought to trigger a leadership challenge, a thrashing in local elections, has come and gone, but the prime minister’s position seems, for now, secure.

His aides are said to be “excited about the future” and believe the prime minister is close to being out of the woods because “the sky hasn’t collapsed”.

The Conservatives lost nearly 500 seats and control of 12 councils in the May 5 election, one of the party’s most dire performances, in which it did worse than most predictions.

But only about 15 Conservative MPs have called for Johnson to leave, or disclosed sending letters demanding a no-confidence vote, and the tally has not increased since the election results were announced.

Some 54 letters are needed to activate the vote, after which the prime minister would be forced to resign if he does not win the support of more than half of the party’s 359 MPs.

Many MPs say they are waiting to see if he receives more police fines for Number 10’s lockdown parties, or await the publication of Sue Gray’s final report on the scandal, but some rebels fear the momentum will be lost.

Boris Johnson’s position appears secure despite his party’s heavy losses in local elections.


The belief underscores the fragile links between the various Tory tribes: the One Nation group, the hard Brexiters who put Johnson at No. 10, and the 2019 newcomers who owe their success to his leadership.

Former Foreign Secretary Hunt, who is a member of the One Nation group, warned last week that the Tories have a “huge mountain to climb” if they want to stay in power, but said a leadership contest would be a mistake.” in the future”. in the midst of a terrible war in Ukraine.”

Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister who coordinated the signatures to force a no-confidence vote on Theresa May’s leadership, has called for Johnson to resign, but this time he is not actively plotting.

“If Jeremy came out and said he had seen enough evidence [against Mr Johnson]that could make a difference”, suggested a parliamentarian.

Another said of his constituents: “My people say ‘Anyone but Boris’, but when I ask who should replace him, my fellow MPs shut up.”

One of the former ministers said: “I try to convince my colleagues that by deciding to do nothing, they are making an active decision to stay with Boris in the next election.”

Another has warned his colleagues: “The problem at the moment is him, but it could easily be all of us if we are not careful, because the whole party will be totally contaminated.”


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