Politics Explained

Even if MPs decide they do want Boris Johnson gone – it will be difficult to force him out

Individual MPs and factions have to make parallel calculations about the (highly uncertain) end result, writes Sean O’Grady

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:49
<p>Boris Johnson has apologised to MPs over attending a party at Downing Street in May 2020 </p>

Boris Johnson has apologised to MPs over attending a party at Downing Street in May 2020

Even if a substantial number of Conservative MPs judge that Boris Johnson is more hindrance than help to their cause, and want him gone, it is still actually quite difficult to get him out.

This is both because deposing a prime minister who has won a relatively recent general election with a good majority – and thus an undoubted popular mandate – is a risky business; and because the rules create a Byzantine firework for plotting and gaming the system.

Each potential candidate has to weigh up their chances of actually removing the incumbent and then winning a subsequent election before they might signal their supporters to send the necessary triggering letters to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, even if secrecy is guaranteed. Creating trouble and instability but seeing then Johnson survive a challenge might be the worst of all worlds. He’d have to limp on with diminished authority and standing, the party bitterly divided, and advantaging only the opposition parties.

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