Big Tory donors plead with MPs not to ditch Boris Johnson
TORY donors who have given the party more than £18 Million in recent years today urged Conservative MPs not to ditch the PM.
The pleading letter from 22 big bucks supporters brands plotters "foolish" and says BoJo has their "unwavering support."
It reads: "Yes, there are many challenges ahead. But wasting months of precious time on a leadership challenge would be foolish – and in our view, it would not be forgiven by the British people.
"This country needs leadership and answers now – and our Prime Minister is the best person to do that job.
"We need to let him get on with it. Business needs certainty and stability, so we need Boris Johnson to remain as our Prime Minister, and he has our unwavering support."
Big names include billionaire JCB boss Lord Bamford, property magnate Sir Tony Gallagher and Carphone Wearhouse founder David Ross.
Other names include multimillionaire financier Howard Shore and mega rich Simon Rueben – who alongside brother David is worth £16bn.
Their intervention came after backbench chief Sir Graham Brady announced this morning that at least 54 Tory MPs have submitted no confidence letters in the PM.
It triggers a dramatic secret ballot between 6 and 8pm later this evening in which Tory MPs will decide Mr Johnson's fate.
The PM today vowed to fight tooth and nail to squash the revolt to stay in Downing Street and "draw a line" under recent woes.
In dramatic developments:
- Leadership rival Jeremy Hunt broke cover to call for MPs to vote against the PM
- One Tory MP resigned from the government and declared himself a rebel
- More than 50 Conservatives publicly rowed in behind the PM
- Every member of the Cabinet came out to back Mr Johnson
- The PM will try to rally his troops at a meeting before the vote
No10 today said the PM relished the "chance to end months of speculation and allow the Government to draw a line and move on."
A spokeswoman said: "The PM welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs and will remind them that when they’re united and focused on the issues that matter to voters there is no more formidable political force."
He has also written to all MPs insisting it would be "destructive, decisive and distracting" to change leader now.
He will try to rally his troops later at a last gasp meeting of the 1922 committee at 4pm just hours before the vote.
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But if the size of the mutiny surpasses 180 MPs he will be kicked out of No10 and a fresh contest for the Tory crown will take place.
Disgruntled rebels seized on spectators booing the PM this weekend as he attended a Platinum Jubilee service at St Paul's Cathedral.
A steady drumbeat of rebellion has been building since the Sue Gray report into Partygate was published last month.
A lack of action to tackle the cost of living crisis has also been cited as rebel causes for Mr Johnson to go.
Ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today became the most high profile rebel to stick the knife in as he revealed he will vote to ditch Boris.
In a stinging Twitter thread he blasted: "Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values.
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"Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change."
His searing intervention sparked a furious blue-on-blue war as BoJo loyalist Nadine Dorries let rip at Mr Hunt – saying his stewardship of the health service left us more vulnerable to Covid.
Former finance minister Jesse Norman also broke cover as the latest Tory MP to join the rebellion.
And John Penrose resigned as a government anti-corruption tsar, branding the confidence vote "the beginning of the end".
However loyalists quickly formed a protective ring around the PM by declaring their support in tonight's vote.
More than 50 Tory MPs including every Cabinet Minister rowed in behind their leader.
Likely leadership runner Liz Truss was quick out of the blocks to declare her "100% backing".
Chancellor Rishi Sunak added: "From the vaccine rollout to our response to Russian aggression, the PM has shown the strong leadership our country needs."
No10 chief of staff Steve Barclay slammed rebellious colleagues and said "continued internal factionalisation would be indefensible".
Treasury chief Simon Clarke piled in: "I will be voting confidence in our Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"He honoured the wishes of the British people and delivered Brexit when no other major politician would or could have.
"Since then he has led us through Covid, delivering the fastest vaccine roll-out."
Speaking live from Westminster this morning, Sir Graham said he told the PM of the imminent leadership contest yesterday.
He revealed some plotters had post-dated their letter so it did not ruin the royal celebrations.
The 1922 chair said: "Some colleagues asked it should not be until the end of the Jubilee."
Jittery MPs fear the PM is not the electoral superstar who won alandslide in 2019 and worry they will lose their seats if he leads the party into the next election.
Shock polls putting the Tories on course to lose two crunch byelections later this month have fanned fears.
A brutal briefing being shared warns the PM “is no longer an electoral asset and, if left in post, will lead the Party to a substantial defeat in 2024”.
They fear 160 Tory MPs could lose their seats with Boris still in No10 turning a “defeat into a landslide”.
"MPs are having to defend the indefensible, not for the sake of the party, but for one man."
Mr Johnson has apologised for Partygate and begged the nation to move on so he can focus on the cost of living crisis and Ukraine.
WHAT IS A TORY NO CONFIDENCE VOTE?
TORY MPs wanting to remove and replace their leader can do so by calling a confidence vote in their leadership.
Under party rules a vote is triggered when 15 per cent of Conservative MPs – 54 currently – submit a letter of no confidence to 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady.
The secret vote is decided by a simple majority verdict, meaning the PM needs 180 of his colleagues to back him to stay in post.
If he does not bag victory, Mr Johnson will be removed as Tory leader and only stay on as prime minister while a fresh race to be his successor takes place.
Because of the number of MPs on the government payroll, Mr Johnson is expected to win the contest.
But anything other than a landslide will seriously wound him and could spell curtains for his premiership.
Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher both quit soon after winning their own confidence votes, while John Major limped on towards an election drubbing after winning his.
Mr Johnson has however signalled he will fight on regardless of the size of his victory.
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