Conservative Party prime minister Boris Johnson could lose his leadership of the party and his country today as enough members of his own party have sent in letters of no confidence in him.
Johnsons’ members of parliament (MPs) will hold the crunch-time vote between 6 and 8 o’clock local time.
The prime minister, who won the last 2019 general election by a record-breaking majority as the British public responded to his ‘Get Brexit Done’ campaign, will need the support of half the party’s MPs plus one to survive.
If he loses the vote, the Conservative Party will hold a leadership contest to choose a new chief who will then take over as prime minister.
It comes after growing criticism of the prime minister among rebel members of his party and the public after he received a fine from the police for breaching his own Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic.
According to reports, Johnson held a small birthday gathering in his office where he and a handful of staff drank alcohol, ate a birthday cake, and played music. At the time, gatherings that were not work-related were banned under Johnson’s rules.
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The scandal dubbed ‘partygate’ by the British tabloids split public opinion with some slamming the prime minister for breaking rules he implemented while demanding the rest of the country adhered to strict social distancing laws.
As Johnson and his wife Carrie arrived at the Queen’s Thanksgiving service over the weekend, boos could be heard coming from the patriotic crowd – perhaps serving as a final push for Tory rebels to attempt to oust their leader.
But supporters argue that removing Johnson, who was a strong supporter and ally of Donald Trump, from office may result in the compromise of Brexit-related policies, most of which are yet to be put in place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie have arrived at St Paul's Cathedral alongside members of the Cabinet for the Queen's #PlatinumJubilee thanksgiving service.
Live updates: https://t.co/93K97iZa1O
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 3, 2022
The debate only increased two-fold when it was revealed the leader of the left-wing opposition, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who had been highly critical of Johnson’s partying, had been covertly photographed drinking beer and ordering take-outs with his colleagues despite Covid restrictions.
Keir Starmer, Labour leader, at a gathering, drank beer, ate curry, whilst ordinary people stuck to the rules, didn't got out, didn't see friends
He received no fine. He kept his job.
The campaign against our PM is politically motivated, hypocritical and deeply undemocratic. pic.twitter.com/XGcE4fO5wq
— Mark Vipond (@MarkVipond) April 14, 2022
A letter was sent out today by Johnson urging MPs to stop the “in fighting” after rebel member Graham Brady said at least 54 of the 359 have called for the vote.
John Penrose who had previously backed Johnson said he thought it was “all over” and said the prime minister has “no option” but to resign for breaking the ministerial code.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt who lost the previous Tory leadership campaign to Johnson said he would be voting against Johnson:
“Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change,” he wrote.
Johnson’s inner circle of supporters remains largely intact with Chancellor of the Exchequer (Secretary of the Treasury) Rishi Sunak planting his flag on the prime minister’s side, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss pledging her “100 percent backing” and Deputy PM Dominic Raab also voicing his support.
Rebel MPs are likely to know that Johnson will probably win the vote, but also say that even if he does win it, a large number of votes against him will look “very bad”:
“He will win, but how much he wins by is the most important thing. Fewer than 100 would be good, anything more very bad. The payroll vote has to back him, so people will look at whether he’s got a majority on the back benches,” one anonymous senior Tory MP told the Mail.