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First Tory MP publicly confirms sending letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson

Sir Roger Gale says he would be surprised if PM survives to lead Tories into 2024 general election

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 17 December 2021 12:55 GMT
MP Roger Gale confirms he has sent letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has become the first Tory to confirm publicly that he has sent a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady.

Some 55 letters are needed to trigger a confidence vote by the 361 Tory MPs, with a simple majority needed to force a new leadership election.

Few in Westminster expect the necessary letters to be sent soon, but Sir Roger said he believes Mr Johnson will not lead the Tories into the next general election and could be unseated well before its expected date in 2024.

The veteran MP for North Thanet, a longstanding and vocal critic of the prime minister, said that he had submitted his letter in the wake of former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ lockdown-breaching trip to Barnard Castle last year.

But he said that he had checked recently with Sir Graham and been told that the expression of no confidence remains valid.

The chairman of the “22”, which represents backbench Tory MPs, never reveals the number of letters which he has received until they reach the tipping point of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party - currently 55 MPs.

“I put in a letter to Sir Graham Brady after the Barnard Castle incident, because that gave a message to me that this was not the kind of leadership that I believe the Conservative Party needed,” Sir Roger told the BBC.

“I have no idea at all how many other people - if any other people - have written that kind of letter and Sir Graham Brady would certainly not reveal how many he’s got until and unless the trigger point is reached.”

He said: “We don’t need a leadership election at the moment. We need to concentrate on getting people vaccinated on getting on with the job of government.

“But I think that’s coming down the track.

“I would personally be surprised if Mr Johnson fought the next general election, but I’m one person - only one person.

“If you’re going to change your leader, you don’t do it just before a general election, so I think that may be coming down the track.”

Sir Roger said that the alleged parties at Downing Street had been very damaging for the Conservatives and said he hoped they will be subjected to investigation by the police.

“I find it rather strange that the Metropolitan Police is saying they haven’t got the evidence to investigate these matters,” he said.

“I think they are serious. Thousands of people were denying themselves opportunities to - for heaven’s sake - visit dying relatives apart from anything else, and suffering all manner of restrictions while it looks as though improper, illegal gatherings were being held within Downing Street and elsewhere.

“You can’t have one rule for one set of people and one for rule for another. People have paid fines because they’ve been partying and I fear that has to apply to Downing Street as well as to everybody else. And I would hope and expect that the Metropolitan Police will take that on board.”

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