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Tory Rebels Warn Party Faces "Substantial" Election Defeat Under Boris Johnson In Leaked Document

4 min read

A briefing note being shared among Conservative MPs who want to oust Boris Johnson warns that he is no longer an "electoral asset" and is leading the party to a "substantial defeat" at the next general election.

The single-page document seen by PoliticsHome, titled 'party leadership', lists examples of recent polling and analysis demonstrating how the prime minister's popularity has decreased significantly in recent months amid the partygate scandal and cost of living crisis.

PoliticsHome understands MPs who have called on Johnson to go have been sharing the note with “like minded” colleagues who are considering whether to push for a change in leadership. 

It is widely expected that a threshold of 54 letters of no confidence in Johnson could be met as early as this week, triggering a challenge to his leadership. 

The document warns that the Tories are at risk of losing dozens of seats at the next general election: both in so-called red wall parts of northern England and the Midlands where Labour hopes to reclaim ground, and in so-called blue-wall seats in the South where the Conservatives are normally guaranteed votes but face significant losses to the Liberal Democrats.

Tory rebels believe that as many as 160 Conservative MPs face losing their seats at the 2024 election based on the current trajectory, the briefing claims, adding that the impact of tactical voting could result in a "landslide" defeat.

Labour and the Lib Dems are reported to be engaged in an informal electoral pact in order to win seats from the Tories at two byelections this month. Last week Lib Dem leader Ed Davey hinted to PoliticsHome that he would be willing to work with other parties to unseat the Tories at the next general election.

The document warns that footage of Johnson being booed by crowds at the Jubilee celebrations in London this weekend "tells us nothing that data does not".

It cites comments by J.L. Partners polls co-founder James Johnson who this week told PoliticsHome that Johnson was at risk of becoming a "Conservative Corbyn". The leading pollster has argued that the cost of living packaged unveiled last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak had fallen flat with the public because policies announced by the government are now "attached" to Johnson's negative image.

"Voters now don't trust the Prime Minister to deliver on other things," he said.

The briefing to Tory MPs insists that partygate will continue to "play out" over the summer and could potentially overshadow the government, and subject ministers and Conservative MPs to questioning about the scandal as a result, until the party's annual conference in Birmingham in October.

It concludes: "The only way to end this misery, earn a hearing from the British public, and restore Conservative fortunes to a point where we can win the next general election, is to remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister".

Johnson could face a vote of no confidence as soon as this week after numerous Conservative MPs called for him to resign following the publication of Sue Gray's report into lockdown parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall.

So far 28 Tory MPs have publicly called on Johnson to stand aside, though not all of them have confirmed that they have sent a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee.

Under Conservative party rules if 15% of their MPs, currently 54, call for a confidence vote then it triggers a secret ballot.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday said he did not believe a confidence vote would be triggered this week and that if a vote is triggered, Johnson would win.

More than half of Tory MPs – 180 – would need to vote against Johnson for him to be removed as leader and prime minister.

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