Boris Johnson “plots an earlier general election to see his leadership competitors” as Partygate farce drags on. Party whips predict PM will be facing a vote-of-no confidence if the Tories lose Red Wall By-elections.

  • The party whips believe it’s now likely that the PM will be subject to a no confidence vote
  • According to sources, Sir Graham Brady received 46 requests for votes.
  • Tensions regarding the long-running Partygate controversy reached an all new head last week.

Senior Government sources suggest that Boris Johnson may increase preparations for an earlier General Election to relieve pressure within his party for a challenge for the leadership.

The party whips feel it is now likely that the Prime Minster will face a vote to no confidence in the event that Conservatives lose marginal Wakefield by-election. This is after weeks of bitter rows regarding lockdown parties in Downing Street.

According to sources, 46 letters asking for votes were sent to Sir Graham Brady (chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee), which is only eight less than the required total. If a majority vote in favor of the contest, it is activated.

But the Government sources think that if Mr Johnson can hang on until the autumn, the prospect of a potential election in 2023, rather then the expected 2024, will stay the rebels’ hand as it would not leave sufficient time for a new leader to bed in before polling day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as his boards his plane for the UK at Delhi airport at the end of his two day trip to India

Boris Johnson waved as Prime Minister at Delhi airport, India at the end his two-day visit to India.

Sources put Mr Johnson’s chances of leading the party to the next election at 50-50.

Tensions surrounding the ongoing Partygate scandal reached a new high last week when MPs supported a Commons inquiry to see if Johnson misleaded them. 

Following a revolt by Tory backbenchers, No 10 tried to derail the vote.

In a display of strength that could not be overlooked, it is believed up to 40 Ministers, ministerial assistants and senior Tories prepared to challenge Downing Street.

Officers fined Johnson and Carrie Johnson for breaking lockdown rules when they attended a celebration to mark his 60th birthday, June 2020.

The Prime Minister – who returned yesterday from a two-day visit to India – is known to have attended at least two more of the 12 events being investigated by the Met Police.

Mr Johnson is pictured sitting around a table in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 with his wife Carrie Johnson, former chief aide-turned-rival Dominic Cummings, and Principal Private Secretary 'Party Marty' Reynolds

Pictured with Carrie Johnson and Dominic Cummings (ex-chief aide, now rival) is Mr Johnson at a Downing Street table, May 2020.

David Canzini, who was appointed as Mr Johnson’s deputy chief of staff two months ago, has been drumming into Government advisers the need to be prepared ‘for a General Election at any time’. 

A key ally of long-term Johnson adviser Sir Lynton Crosby, Mr Canzini, has been tasked by the Prime Minister with exerting a new grip on the Government’s operations.

No 10’s original plan for election timing was to ‘go long’ into 2024 to give the economy time to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and allow Mr Sunak the time to woo voters with a tax cut.

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak (above) were fined by police earlier this month for breaching lockdown rules

Officers fined Carrie Johnson (above) and Rishi Sunak (below) earlier this month after they breached lockdown rules

Boris walks along with sadhus or Hindu holymen during his visit at the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar

Boris walks with Hindu holy men and sadhus during his visit to the Swaminarayan Akshardham shrine in Gandhinagar

PM facing ‘£10k fine’ 

Tory party whips have told backbenchers they shouldn’t be ‘spooked’ if Boris Johnson is hit with a maximum £10,000 fine for lockdown breaches.

The announcement comes amid increasing nerves in Tory MPs over the party in Downing Street Flat on November 13, 2020. This is after Dominic Cummings, the chief adviser, quit. Abba songs played during this time.

Johnson denies that there were any party. The Mail on Sunday understands that he has given a private account of the 13 November events, in which he said he and some staffers went up to the flat for a ‘council of war’ after Mr Cummings’s departure ‘to work out what to do next’.

These considerations, however, are outweighed by calculations regarding how to keep Johnson at the helm.

Yesterday night, it was reported that seven Conservatives had spoken to Labour to discuss defection. Dehenna Dehenna, Red Wall MP has attracted particular attention.

The Prime Minister’s fate now lies in the hands of the Commons Privileges Committee, which has the power to examine the estimated 300 pictures of lockdown-busting parties collected by the Met. 

Labour, which has the power to appoint the chairman of the seven-strong committee, is looking for a ‘big beast’ such as former Foreign Secretary Dame Margaret Beckett to head the probe.

The party’s Chris Bryant had to recuse himself from the Committee last week after publicly accusing Mr Johnson of being a ‘proven liar’.

A Labour source confirmed the party was looking for a ‘grandee, an elder statesman’ to take Mr Bryant’s place.

Some MPs last night called for the whole committee to be temporarily replaced by new candidates – as was done for the Parliamentary inquiry into Tory former Cabinet Minister Damian Green – to ensure fair process. 

This follows concern that three of the four Tories on the committee – Laura Farris, Alberto Costa and Andy Carter – are on the Government payroll as ministerial aides.