ore Tory MPs have submitted no confidence letters in Boris Johnson this morning, according to reports, as pressure builds on the prime minister.
Government sources told Sky News that 12 new letters had been given to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, amid growing anger over Mr Johnson’s explanation of the “partygate” scandal.
MPs from the former so-called Red Wall were said to have met on Tuesday night to discuss Mr Johnson’s future in a gathering nicknamed the “pork pie plot” or the “pork pie putsch”. One told the Daily Telegraph that the 54 letter threshold required for a confidence vote could be met this week.
It comes just hours before Mr Johnson faces MPs and Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons.
Cabinet minister James Heappey said he had received “well over” 500 emails about the partygate scandal and that the “overwhelming majority, maybe nine in 10 or even 19 in 20 are absolutely furious and cannot understand how all this has happened”.
More Tory MPs ‘submit no confidence letters’
As many as twelve Tory MPs have submitted no confidence letters in Boris Johnson this morning, according to reports.
Government sources told Sky News that a raft of new letters had been given to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, amid growing pressure on the prime minister.
The group of MPs – said to have been elected in 2019 – reportedly met last night to discuss whether to move to unseat Mr Johnson.
It comes just hours before Mr Johnson faces MPs and Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons.
Rebels will have enough letters this week for no confidence vote, claims Tory MP
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen claims that rebels looking to unseat Boris Johnson will have enough letters this week to trigger a confidence vote.
Mr Bridgen, who has already called for the PM to resign, said he expects at least 20 more letters to go in today from MPs newly elected in 2019.
Under party rules, there will be a confidence vote if 54 Conservative MPs submit letters to Sir Graham.
Mr Bridgen said: “I heard first-hand last night that another 20 from the 2019 intake will be going in today.
“I would have thought that will encourage a considerable number of others who are wavering to put their letters in.
“I think will we get to threshold of 54 this week. Graham Brady will announce we are having a confidence vote next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.
“The Sue Gray report, I think, will be out Tuesday or Wednesday next week, and of course Dominic Cummings and those who have got information damaging to the Prime Minister will probably dump everything into the press this weekend to influence the vote next week.”
Labour 33 points ahead in London, according to exclusive poll
Boris Johnson’s woes have escalated as a poll showed the Tories plunging a startling 32 points behind Labour in London over the “Partygate” scandal as frenzied talk grew of a no-confidence vote in the PM, writes Nicholas Cecil.
The yawning gap between Labour and the Conservatives is the biggest in a YouGov survey of the capital for at least 12 years.
If maintained at a General Election, it could see the Tories haemorrhage eight seats in the city, leaving them with just 13 London MPs.
In a series of other damning findings, it also showed that two thirds of Londoners believe the Prime Minister should resign.
Full report from our political editor Nicholas Cecil here.
Ministers warns of ‘tens of thousands’ of deaths if Russia invades Ukraine
A minister has warned that “tens of thousands” of people could die if Russia invades Ukraine.
Armed Forces minister James Heappey said there is a “grave possibility” that Russia may launch military action.
His comments come ahead of a hastily-arranged meeting between the US and Moscow later this week in a bid to defuse tensions.
Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock met with her Russian counterpart on Monday, warning that any military action would be met with sanctions.
Mr Heappey said it is not “remotely realistic” that British troops would engage in combat with the Russian military, but he added the Ukrainians are “ready to fight for every inch of their country”.
He told Times Radio: “What stands in front of us, what could be weeks away, is the first peer-on-peer, industrialised, digitised, top-tier army against top-tier army war that’s been on this continent for generations.
“Tens of thousands of people could die.
“This is not something that people in Moscow should believe to be bloodless. This is not something that the rest of the world should stand by and ignore.”
Former adviser to Boris says he should not be forced out before Gray report
A former adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London has said the Prime Minister should not be forced out before Sue Gray’s report.
Lord Moylan told Sky News: “I think we have to see what Sue Gray says about what the rules were in a work environment at that time.
“People who had to go to work, had to work in a work environment with social distancing, as far as possible, he (Prime Minister) walked into the garden, he shouldn’t have stayed in the garden, he’s apologised for that, and now we go forward from there.
“The question of the ‘pork pie plot’ is one that I think some MPs have been a bit giddy about, but I don’t think they should force the elected Prime Minister out on the strength of this.
“They need to reflect on the facts, they need see Sue Gray’s report, and they think need to think about the consequences and the follow through.”
PM ‘should resign if Gray report suggests he misled parliament’, says minister
Armed forces minister James Heappey signalled he thinks that if Sue Gray’s report shows Boris Johnson misled Parliament he should resign.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The Prime Minister has my trust, he has my confidence, he stood at the despatch box the other day and he gave an account of himself that I can understand and that I accept.
“If Sue Gray comes out and says something different then we’re in a different place and I’m happy to come back and reflect on my feelings then.”
He added: “The ministerial care code is clear: the highest responsibility that any minister has is to be accurate in what they say to the House of Commons. That is the very foundation of our parliamentary democracy.”
Cabinet ‘pushed back on scrappling licence fee’
Some more interesting news concerning Ms Dorries this morning.
The Financial Times report that Chancellor Rishi Sunak spearheaded a Cabinet pushback against the culture secretary’s call to end the licence fee by 2027.
It is claimed that the Cabinet were not properly consulted before the plan was announced. Ms Dorries announced a two-year freeze on the licence fee but also pledged to end the corporation’s funding model in the coming years.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss and work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey are also said to have opposed the plans.
Ms Truss reportedly noted that the plan could threaten the UK’s soft power, with 28 licence-fee BBC Language services likely to take a hit in Asia and Africa.
Dorries claims Tory MPs plotting to oust PM are ‘being disloyal to their country’
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has branded rebel Tory MPs plotting to oust Boris Johnson as “disloyal to their country”.
In comments likely to spark a further backlash among her Conservative colleagues, she told The Times that those calling for the PM to resign were “being disloyal to the prime minister, the party, their constituents and the wider country.”
In 2018, Ms Dorries called for former prime minister Theresa May to resign or be “replaced quickly”.
In an article for the Daily Mail, she branded Mrs May’s decision to impose the dementia tax as “a titanically awful idea” that resulted in the Tories losing seats at the 2017 election.
Starmer says Tories ‘too distracted’ to deal with cost of living crisis
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “The Conservatives are too distracted by scandal and infighting to sort out the cost-of-living crisis.
“Labour’s plan would give security by keeping bills low – saving most households £200, with extra support for those who need it most.”
Recap: Where are we at on partygate?
It is set to be another frenetic day in Westminster, with rumours swirling overnight of a plot to unseat the prime minister.
Here is everything we know this morning:
– A string of Tory MPs have either submitted or are poised to submit their letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady. Just 54 would trigger a no confidence vote in the PM.
– MPs from the former so-called Red Wall were said to have met yesterday to discuss Mr Johnson’s future in a gathering nicknamed the “pork pie plot” or the “pork pie putsch”. One told the Daily Telegraph that the 54 letter threshold could be met today
– One of the 2019-intake of MPs has told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that half of those at yesterday’s meeting had already put letters in this morning. They were said to be “angered by arm twisting calls and what they see as insulting quotes from ministers last night”
– Cabinet ministers rallied to support the prime minister and issued a stinging counter-briefing against Red Wall MPs. One anonymous minister told The Times they were “f****** nobodies” and owed their political careers to Mr Johnson.
– An expected announcement that Plan B measures to stem the spread of coronavirus will be lifted next week is likely to please some backbenchers