Mon, 27 May 2024

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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
Press releases

Minister Says Speculation Around Efforts To Oust Boris Johnson Are A "Pointless Distraction"

3 min read

Arts minister Lord Parkinson has described speculation over whether Boris Johnson will face a challenge to his leadership as “pretty pointless” after several more Tory MPs submitted letters of no confidence in the prime minister.

The Conservative peer told Sky News that guesses around the number of letters submitted to the backbench 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady, who keeps the total secret until a threshold of 54 has been met, serves a "distraction from the work of government".

Parkinson recalled a similar situation faced by Johnson's predecessor as prime minister, Theresa May, who faced a confidence vote as a result of dispute over Brexit negotiations. 

“There was an awful lot for us in government to be getting on with then just as there is now,” he said. 

“She focussed on it just as the prime minister is focussing on the things that matter.

“The cost-of-living, making sure that we’re providing the leadership we need in the face of the war in Ukraine – it’s pointless speculating about something unless or until it happens.”

So far 27 MPs have gone public with their opposition to Johnson's leadership. 

A combination of factors have caused a growing frustration with the Prime Minister among Conservative MPs, but the findings of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into lockdown gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall reignited frustrations when it was published last week. 

For a Conservative leadership contest to be triggered, at least 54 letters of no confidence need to be submitted to Brady. Only he knows the exact number of letters that have been submitted at any one time, and once the threshold has been met, Brady can announce the news publicly.

Among those calling for Johnson to go are select committee chairs Tobias Ellwood, Caroline Nokes and William Wragg, ex-Cabinet ministers David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, and influential backbenchers Steve Baker and Mark Harper.

Alongside the 27 MPs explicitly calling for Johnson to step down, a further 12 have been publicly critical of the Prime Minister but stopped short of confirming whether they have submitted a no confidence letter.

In an email to constituents, the influential chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat, said: "The PM put the governance of the UK at risk to a single, severe Covid outbreak. That is to say nothing of the lack of respect it showed for the British people or the Queen.

"I have made my position clear to those who need to hear it."

MP Nickie Aiken told constituents she believes Johnson should voluntarily submit himself to a no confidence vote to end “speculation” over his leadership, but did not confirm whether she has submitted a letter to force the process.

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