Tory MPs can be prepared in enough numbers to power Boris Johnson out of Downing Avenue inside weeks if he tries to dodge accountability for rule-breaking events at No 10, the Observer has been advised.
Whereas most Conservative MPs say they’re ready for a report into so-called “partygate” by the senior civil servant Sue Gray earlier than deciding the prime minister’s destiny, massive numbers admit privately that their minds are successfully made up and that they’re merely observing “due course of”.
What has satisfied many Tory MPs to behave towards Johnson if he or the Downing Avenue operation is criticised instantly or not directly by Grey – and he then tries to struggle on – has been the furious reaction from their constituents to new revelations of partying, together with two events late into the night at No 10, on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral final April when such gatherings had been forbidden.
An Opinium ballot for the Observer will unfold additional alarm in Conservative ranks.
It exhibits Labour taking a 10-point lead over the Tories, with Johnson’s private rankings collapsing to ranges equal to Theresa Could at her lowest ebb. It additionally exhibits that 46% of Depart voters who backed the Conservatives on the 2019 election say Johnson ought to resign, suggesting the coalition he put collectively to win an 80-strong majority in parliament is fracturing.
The Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, a former international workplace minister, mentioned that Johnson needed to reveal inside days that he might finish the chaos for good and reveal a brand new form of management. “But when he tries to spin his method out of a vital report, he’ll lose my help,” he mentioned.
Up to now solely a handful of Tory MPs have referred to as publicly for Johnson to go. To set off a vote of confidence in him, 54 MPs or extra want to jot down to the chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers asking for one. If Johnson had been to lose such a vote, he has to step down.
One other senior determine within the get together mentioned MPs had been in a holding sample. The Tory MP for Waveney in Suffolk, Peter Aldous, mentioned he was near calling for Johnson’s head although he would anticipate the Grey report, including that many pro-Brexit voters in his constituency had been amongst those that had been outraged at what had been occurring.
“An terrible lot individuals who voted Brexit do really feel very badly let down,” he mentioned, stating that this was not due to the consequences of Brexit however due to Johnson’s private behaviour.
One other Tory MP mentioned that he had been confronted by native Tory councillors on Friday who had voted for Johnson as chief and backed Brexit earlier than voting Conservative in 2019, however had been now insisting en masse that Johnson needed to go. “I can say my councillors are very pissed off,” he mentioned.
A senior Whitehall determine in common contact with Grey, who is predicted to publish her findings by the top of this week, mentioned she was “dissatisfied in what she is discovering however personally she is powerful”. It’s understood she had no concept of the most recent revelations about events and solely discovered about them within the media.
The supply added that Grey had her popularity for independence and integrity to guard however was additionally studiously honest. “She’s going to give it each barrels to whoever deserves it, whether or not that may be a particular adviser or civil servant or the politicos.
“We are going to get the unvarnished reality. If she sees direct accountability, she can be clear. That’s the reason I feel that is going to be uncomfortable for everybody. Everybody goes to take their share of the blame.”
Professor Robert Ford of Manchester College mentioned the Opinium poll needs to be significantly worrying for the Tories and Johnson. “Johnson himself has shifted from the get together’s greatest asset, with a Brexit-fuelled enchantment separate to the Conservative model, to its greatest legal responsibility, because the revelations of Downing Avenue revelry in lockdown render him personally poisonous with the identical voters.
“The Conservatives might now be damned in the event that they do and damned in the event that they don’t. Sticking with Johnson dangers additional contaminating the get together model if the scandals proceed and voter fury intensifies.”
Individually, a panel of Tory activists assembled by the ConservativeHome web site discovered 53% believed Johnson ought to resign instantly. The previous Tory MP and editor of the web site, Paul Goodman, mentioned: “That over half of get together members need the prime minister out, if this return is consultant, is a humiliating end result for him, and exhibits a lack of confidence that might not be reversed.”
Opinium put Labour on 41%, the Tories on 31%, the Lib Dems on 9% and the Greens on 6%.
On the partygate scandal, 78% of voters suppose that Downing Avenue employees did break lockdown guidelines, towards 8% who say they didn’t. Some 76% suppose Johnson himself broke lockdown guidelines, towards 8% who imagine he didn’t. Simply 13% suppose Johnson is telling the reality about what occurred, towards 64% who don’t. Some 67% imagine the police ought to examine what occurred.