Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Will Hazell

Last chance saloon: Boris Johnson may not survive Tory MPs vote on Partygate report

Boris Johnson at the UK's privileges committee last week. Photo: PA

Boris Johnson’s allies in the UK House of Commons fear they lack the votes to save him from being kicked out of parliament by the privileges committee.

Last week, the former British PM endured a bruising appearance in front of the committee, which will rule on whether he “knowingly or recklessly” misled MPs over what he knew about parties in Downing Street during the Covid lockdown.

It could recommend a suspension of more than 10 days, which, if ratified by the House of Commons, could lead to a by-election in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said Tory MPs will have a free vote on the committee’s report, meaning Johnson’s fate will be in his colleagues’ hands.

‘If members want Boris as leader, you have to respect that’

A senior backbench ally of Johnson said yesterday he would be backed by a “significant number” of Tory MPs, with “up to 40, maybe a bit more” voting to protect him. But that would still fall far short of the hundreds he needs to save his skin.

The backbench ally accused No 10 of “vitriol and poison” towards Johnson, and said Sunak had made a mistake in refusing to force MPs to support him.

“A vote like that is going to go down very badly with the party outside of Westminster,” they said.

Granting a free vote had given a “get out of jail card” to MPs who had already “knifed” Johnson last summer, added the Johnson ally.

“I think it should be a three-line whip. With that, people have to be accountable for their decisions and choices rather than hiding.”

The Johnson ally accused the prime minister of “coasting off the back” of Johnson’s 2019 election victory.

There is growing concern about Johnson’s political future among his supporters. Robert Hayward, a Tory MP and pollster, said his ambitions had been dealt a blow by his committee appearance and unsuccessful attempt to lead a Commons revolt against Sunak’s Brexit deal.

Allies may get an opportunity to rehabilitate Johnson when the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) — a group packed with Johnson supporters — meets on May 13, a week after local elections which are predicted to be challenging for Sunak.

David Campbell-Bannerman, chairman of the CDO, told reporters that if the election results were poor, MPs could panic and Sunak would face a “reckoning”.

He added: “CDO is not a ‘bring back Boris’ campaign. We are about party reform. But the point we make is that if you put members back in charge, then if they want Boris as leader, you have to respect that.”

A source close to Johnson said: “We respect the privileges committee and are waiting for them to come to their conclusions. When they bring those forward, we will study them.”

Related topics

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.