Cabinet ministers urge Boris Johnson to mount leadership bid as polls shows public want May out
Five Cabinet members have urged Boris Johnson to mount a leadership bid against Theresa May as the Conservative party descended into mutiny after Thursday’s general election.
The Sunday Times reports that the senior figures contacted Mr Johnson on Friday rging him to stand against the Prime Minister as it became clear the Tories would fall short of winning a majority
“A handful of senior people have pledged their loyalty to Boris at cabinet level,” an ally said.
“He has been inundated with messages of support. We are facing a populist and they have realised we need someone who can talk to the people. We need a Brexiteer. Boris is the only option with the liberal values, Brexit credentials and popular appeal.”
The Mail on Sunday also quotes a friend of the Foreign Secretary saying it was “go-go-go” for his leadership push. Mr Johnson said last night the report is “tripe” and he is backing Mrs May.
“We need Bojo. We need a Brexiteer. We need somebody who can talk and connect with people like Jeremy Corbyn does. We need someone who can make Britain believe in itself again,” the ally said.
Mr Johnson tweeted:
It comes as a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found that 48% of voters believe the Prime Minister should stand down, while 38% believe she should remain in 10 Downing Street.
That follows an online poll by the ConservativeHome website found that 59% of members said the Prime Minister should quit after the Tories lost their overall majority in the Commons.
In the YouGov survey, only Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson had a net favourable rating when voters were asked “If Theresa May stands down, would the following make a good or bad leader” with 20% in favour and 15% against.
But only 24% of members thought Mr Johnson would make a good leader to 52% against.
It emerged last night that three backbench MPs who are backing Mr Johnson to be party leader are mulling over launching a “kamikaze” attack. This would entail forcing a vote of no confidence in Mrs May, running as stalking horses and then Mr Johnson later joining the contest without being seen as the aggressor.
But Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker warned his colleagues that mounting a leadership putsch could risk ceding power to the Labour party.
In a strongly worded intervention, the backbencher said: “There is a special circle of hell for Conservative politicians using current events to advance themselves.
“We need a laser-like focus. If we make a mistake that leads to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell getting their hands on power, this country will turn into Venezuela.”
Mrs May’s position as Prime Minister was placed in jeopardy this weekend after the Tories returned with 318 seats at the general election – eight seats short of a majority and 12 shy of their 2015 intake.
The Sunday Times reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond has made his support for the Tory leader conditional on her moderating her Brexit stance.
A source close to Hammond said: “Philip is very keen that these negotiations start on the right foot and that we will put British businesses and jobs first. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the economy is the most important thing for people’s lives.”