Boris Johnson will fight to save job in confidence vote, says No 10

Prime minister wants to lead Conservatives into next election, says source

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 19 January 2022 14:38
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Tory MP David Davis tells Boris Johnson to quit: ‘In the name of God, go’

Boris Johnson will fight any vote of no confidence brought against him, a senior Downing Street source has said.

The prime minister’s press secretary told reporters that Mr Johnson continues to believe he is the best person for the job and intends to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.

Mr Johnson’s position is in peril due to anger from Tory MPs over a string of reports of parties at Downing Street during lockdown.

At least seven Conservative MPs have called on the prime minister to resign, and there are reports of 20 or more submitting letters of no confidence to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

However, only five have publicly confirmed letters and Sir Graham has not revealed how many he has received. He must order a confidence vote if 54 Tory MPs demand one.

To remain leader, Mr Johnson would have to win the votes of more than half of his parliamentary party - currently 180 MPs.

Asked whether the PM would fight to save his job if subjected to a vote of this kind, his press secretary told a regular Westminster press briefing: “Yes.”

But challenged over whether he would expect to win, she replied: “That is getting into a hypothetical. Our focus is very clear in terms of delivering the ambitious agenda that we were elected on in 2019.

“We want to continue to work together as Conservatives to deliver this.”

The press secretary said that this was the focus of Mr Johnson’s discussions with backbench Tory MPs, who he has been meeting privately yesterday and today as he battles to shore up his position.

She denied reports that the PM was in tears at one of these meetings as he asked what more he could do to remain in post.

“I have seen that report. It’s not true,” she said. “He regularly meets MPs. He was doing exactly that yesterday and will do the same today.

“The broad message of all of these meetings is to focus on what we've delivered for the country so far since we were elected, from getting Brexit done to record investment in local transport and infrastructure to tackling this unprecedented pandemic.

“We've consistently made tough decisions which have resulted in us being in a position we're in now. We've delivered the fastest booster rollout in Europe, which has enabled us to have the most open economy and the fastest growth in the G7 and enabled us to make the decision we have today about lifting Plan B restrictions.”

The current system under which a confidence vote is triggered if 15 per cent of Tory MPs request one was introduced by former leader William Hague.

Theresa May was forced to fight a confidence vote in December 2018 and sailed through by 200 votes to 117, only to be forced out of office by more brutal means six months later.

The only Tory leader to have actually been forced out by a vote of this kind was Iain Duncan Smith, defeated by 90 votes to 75 in 2003.

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