BORIS Johnson’s allies are reportedly plotting the demise of Rishi Sunak’s premiership - with May local elections reportedly being targeted as a focal point for toppling the PM.
The pair’s relationship soured during the last days of Johnson’s premiership and was brought back under the spotlight during October’s Tory leadership race as Johnson announced he would not run, paving Sunak’s way to No 10.
Reports suggest that Johnson has not relinquished his desire to be prime minister again and now one of his allies has said "we’re not going quietly”, with The Times reporting that May local elections will be a critical moment for dissidents if the party performs poorly.
The source also claimed that Sunak “won’t be able to get any legislation through” – which comes as the PM faces a major rebellion over onshore wind.
An amendment to the Levelling Up Bill which would see an end to a moratorium on onshore wind has gathered support from more than 20 Tory MPS, including Johnson, Liz Truss and former party chairman Sir Jake Berry.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is also understood to be backing the amendment.
Alok Sharma, who was the president of the COP26 climate summit, has also backed the legislative move from former levelling-up secretary Simon Clarke.
Berry said Gove’s divergent opinion “spells real danger for my government”, suggesting it is a “first crack in the wall” of discipline for Sunak.
“Boris Johnson famously used to call wind turbines the white satanic mills of the north of England when they were building them all over my constituency,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
“He’s changed his mind on them, I to a large extent have changed my mind and I’m going to be supporting Simon Clarke.”
The former minister, who was awarded a knighthood by Johnson, argued soaring energy bills are the key reason to invest more in renewables.
Johnson did not seek to overturn the effective moratorium on new onshore wind projects, in place since 2015, during his time in N0 10.
Sunak is seeing a steady stream of Conservative MPs, many of whom are relatively young and were thought to have bright careers ahead, announce their exit plans.
His net-zero tsar Chris Skidmore became the ninth to say they will not contest the next election, following levelling-up minister Dehenna Davison.
Harper insisted they are setting out their positions now because Tories have been given until December 5 to make a decision due to the review into constituency boundaries.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “You are going to see those all bunched together so I don’t think there’s anything particularly to write home about that.”
On dire polling the Tories are struggling to bounce back from, he said: “If we are being realistic about it, we are not going to turn things around overnight.”
Harper told the BBC “I accept things are not easy at the moment” but he said Gove will be talking to colleagues about the planning policy and would be considering changes.
The Prime Minister is not only facing a challenge over onshore wind, but on building targets as well.
He was forced to pull a vote on the legislation that would set a target of building 300,000 homes per year when around 50 Tory MPs threatened to rebel.
Labour leader Keir Starmer backs lifting the wind turbine ban, arguing that Sunak’s refusal to do so is a “national act of self-harm, choking off our economic potential”.