UK 'Partygate' row: Johnson may face no-confidence vote 'within days'

Earlier this week, UK media outlets claimed that more than 100 Conservative MPs will be ready to turn against Prime Minister Boris Johnson if a no-confidence vote against him is triggered. The PM is under pressure to resign over the "partygate" scandal related to alleged COVID rule-breaking parties held at Number 10 in 2020 and 2021.

A no-confidence vote to force British Prime Minister Boris Johnson out of office could happen within days despite lawmakers being away on recess, the Daily Mail has reported.

According to the newspaper, the PM, who is facing increasing calls to step down amid the "partygate" scandal, may face a leadership rebellion next week despite his efforts to "reset" the cabinet following the release of senior civil servant Sue Gray's report into at least 16 alleged Downing Street parties held amid COVID lockdowns between 2020 and 2021. Twelve such gatherings are part of an ongoing probe conducted by the Met Police.

The cabinet reshuffle included Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg becoming the new minister for "Brexit opportunities" and Chris Heaton-Harris, formerly Europe minister in the Foreign Office, taking over as chief whip.

Additionally, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay was appointed Johnson's new chief of staff, while Guto Harri, who earlier worked for the BBC, became the PM's new director of communications.

Downing Street described the appointments as an "overhaul" of Johnson's "senior team" as he "improves the No 10 operation and delivers the change necessary to get on with the job".

The appointments followed five Johnson aides announcing their resignations last week after the release of the Gray report.

Johnson's Director of Policy Munira Mirza was the first to step down but did so due to the PM's controversial remarks about Labour leader Keir Starmer. Johnson accused Starmer of failing to take more action against late sex offender Jimmy Saville when the Labour leader served as the director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013. The prime minister evenutally admitted that Starmer had "nothing to do" with the Saville case, but stopped short of apologising for the comments.

It takes 54 letters of no confidence from Conservative MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence. Around 20 letters are understood to have already been submitted to the chair of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, with many authors deciding not to reveal their intentions.

There are nine Tory MPs who have publicly confirmed that they've submitted a letter of no confidence, among them are Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall, Tobias Ellwood, Peter Aldous, Andrew Bridgen, Douglas Ross, Roger Gale, Aaron Bell, and Nick Gibb.

If the 54-letter threshold is reached, an announcement will be made by Brady and the vote of no confidence will then be held. If more than 50% of lawmakers want Johnson to remain, he will be immune from another leadership challenge for another year.

The British newspaper i has, meanwhile, reported over 100 Tory lawmakers may turn against Johnson if a no-confidence vote is finally triggered.

Johnson "would still technically win the ballot of 360 Tory MPs as he only needs a majority of one to survive, but he would be severely wounded by the scale of the rebellion, which would go far beyond the current public dissent by backbenchers against his leadership", the newspaper argued.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt