Boris Johnson: 'Pork pie plot' to oust PM gathers pace as loyalists launch 'Operation Red Meat' in bid to save him
By SEAMLESS DAILY
19 January 2022
Support for him is haemorrhaging away.
Johnson, who will face a difficult prime minister's questions on Wednesday, will attempt to change the national conversation by announcing the end of Plan B Covid measures.
Johnson set to announce easing of Plan B restrictions in England 'Red wall' mutiny But despite the COVID climbdown, a mutiny led by "red wall" Tory MPs elected in 2019 is said to be close to reaching the numbers required to trigger a leadership contest, sparking fury among Johnson loyalists.
There are claims that 20 "red wallers" are poised to submit letters to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady after PMQs, taking the total to close to the 54 that would mean a no-confidence vote.
And a senior Conservative MP loyal to Mr Johnson told Sky News : "It's very worrying.
But other MPs claim some potential mutineers are prepared to wait for the verdict of Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray's report on Downing Street parties before submitting their letter to Sir Graham.
Christian Wakeford, a 2019-intake MP, became the seventh Tory to reveal he had submitted a no confidence letter on Tuesday.
"That's 500 against Boris.
And another government source said : "Most of them rode in on Boris Johnson's coat-tails and without him they 'll be dumped pretty quickly.
they don't know what they 're doing.
They 're working against us and doing Labour's job for them."
The 2019 intake mutiny is said to have been co-ordinated at a lunchtime meeting being called the "pork pie plot", because one of the plotters was Alicia Kearns, new MP for Rutland and Melton, home of the Melton Mowbray pork pie.
"Decisions on the next steps remain finely balanced," said a government spokesperson ahead of the Cabinet meeting.
"The Omicron variant continues to pose a significant threat and the pandemic is not over.
Tory MPs said colleagues increasingly believed Johnson was more likely than not to face a confidence ballot, probably after the Gray report is published.
one tory mp insisted johnson "he'd win a vote of no confidence as there is no incentive to support him".
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and former rival to Johnson for the leadership, gave an interview to PoliticsHome saying his "ambition hasn't completely vanished" although claiming “ it would take a lot to persuade me to put my hat into the ring ”.
But asked if the prime minister should resign if he lied to parliament, Sunak said : "I am not going to get into hypotheticals, the ministerial code is clear on these matters."
One said activists were refusing to deliver leaflets for the forthcoming local elections because they are so demotivated.
Many MPs also hinted in letters to their constituents that the prime minister may not be able to survive his in job.
"He didn't take it seriously until that moment," one MP said.
Sir Mike Penning, a Tory MP and former minister, was listed.
Penning is trying to get the Commons website to make clear his name was added in error.
But there are some Tories who are floating just that as a bold way out of his current troubles : the PM could call a Commons confidence vote in himself once the Sue Gray report is out.
As wild as it seems, the argument is that this could force ministers ( particularly Rishi Sunak ) to publicly prove their loyalty and realise that Starmer is the real enemy.
It would compound the agony of Tory MPs rather than alleviate it, forcing them to make a choice they don't want to make.
Ministers will think they ’ re being asked to dip their hands in the blood of Johnson ’ s errors and may quit in advance.
In the phrase beloved of special advisers, a self-triggered Commons confidence vote would be a "power move".
But it could also be an out-of-power move too.
A veteran backbencher points out that the public anger is even greater than during the Barnard Castle furore.
Redwood was hammered in the subsequent ballot of Tory MPs, but some backbenchers with long memories also recall that his campaign slogan was "No change, No chance".
A group of around 20 MPs that were first elected in 2019 are said to have met on Tuesday, after two other meetings recently, to talk about what to do.
And it's suggested there's a notion that they will as, a group, submit their letters to Sir Graham after Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday afternoon.
But it is not clear at this stage how many of them will go through with it when the moment comes.
Many Conservative MPs believe that it's better to wait at least to see what Sue Gray's official report into the No 10 shenanigans concludes.
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