ANALYSIS: How today’s Tory chaos could leave Boris Johnson without a majority as Prime Minister

Posted On: 
21st June 2019

With one by-election guaranteed and potentially another on the cards, the Tories’ loosening hold on power could be removed altogether by the time their new leader is elected.

Mark Field's suspension could prove to be a big problem for Boris Johnson if he becomes Prime Minister
Credit: 
PA

The party has had worse days, but staff at Conservative HQ will certainly be glad to see the back of a Friday which saw minister Mark Field suspended and homelessness minister Heather Wheeler forced to apologise for making "racist" remarks about rough sleepers.

Meanwhile the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Chris Davies, was booted out of Parliament altogether after his conviction for expenses fraud.

Minister Mark Field suspended after grabbing female Greenpeace activist by the neck

Convicted Tory MP Chris Davies booted from Brecon and Radnorshire seat after recall petition passes

Homelessness minister apologises for 'racist' comments about rough sleepers

And all this comes hours after the launching of an investigation into the ongoing and deeply damaging row over Brexit, which saw one MP allegedly call their colleague Antoinette Sandbach a “disgrace” who should think about quitting.

Theresa May was left with no choice but to strip Mr Field of his responsibilities as Minister for Asia and the Pacific today after footage showing him manhandling a female protester by the neck emerged late last night.

But while in the short-term it presents a headache for his former boss, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in the long-term the consequences could prove a lot worse for the man expected to defeat him in the race to become Prime Minister; Boris Johnson.

After the disastrous 2017 General Election the Tories were stripped of their majority and forced to make a pact with the DUP to remain in power.

With the defection of several MPs to Change UK/The Independent Group in recent months and the resigning of the whip by Nick Boles, they were down to just 313 MPs.

With the addition of the 10 members from Northern Ireland, Mrs May enjoyed as of 11am today a majority of four.

But with the news this morning the recall petition against Mr Davies had been successful after it was signed by 19% of the constituency's electorate, almost double the 10% threshold, that was immediately reduced to three.

Mr Davies, who confirmed he intends to stand for the Conservatives again, has a majority of 8,000, but the seat was held by the Liberal Democrats as recently as 2015.

With Plaid Cymru signalling they will not be fielding a candidate to help maximise the remain-supporting vote, Vince Cable’s party are widely expected to win the upcoming by-election and reduce the Government’s working majority to just two.

And that could be wiped out altogether if Mr Field, who is facing an investigation by the party, the Cabinet Office and City of London Police, is ousted as an MP as well off the back of his actions at last night’s event at Mansion House.

Labour have launched a petition to force the Tories to go further and suspend him, and for him to “do the right thing and resign from Parliament” after he was filmed grappling with the Greenpeace activist as she attempted to get on stage during a speech by Philip Hammond, pushing her against a pillar before frogmarching her out.

The MP for the Cities of London and Westminster saw his majority cut from nearly 10,000 to 3,148 in 2017, and Jeremy Corbyn’s party, who selected a candidate to fight the next election more than a year ago, would be confident they could turn the constituency from blue to red in an ensuing by-election.

If this played out then within weeks the House of Commons arithmetic would be altered to put the Conservatives and the DUP on 321, while Labour and every other opposition party, minus the seven abstentionist Sinn Fein MPs and the neutral Speaker John Bercow, would also be on 321.

Which would make it rather tricky to say the least for the new man in Number 10 to get anything done at all, thereby massively increasing the chances of an early election being called this Autumn, despite whatever denials Mr Johnson might make.