How Christian Wakeford defection has secured Boris’ job

Boris Johnson is in 'quite a lot of trouble' says MP

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Mr Johnson appeared frazzled as he fought Sir Keir Starmer while newly minted Labour MP Mr Wakeford sat behind him, and David Davis later twisted the knife with a very public resignation call. Although left limping away from the scene, the embattled PM continues to serve, and some Conservatives believe the events of the day benefitted him. Allies and critics have said the shock has redrawn battle lines, staying rebellious MPs’ hands for the time being.

According to insiders, the PMQs ambush has reinvigorated the party spirit.

They have touched on a “tribal” attitude having spurred unity, with most Conservatives more opposed to defection than Mr Johnson.

MPs draw the line at aiding the opposition, one Johnson-sceptic said.

And that, in turn, has meant potential rebels will now consider waiting, while some may choose to withdraw letters of no confidence.

They told Politico’s London Playbook Mr Wakeford helped “focus minds” in the party he abandoned.

The sceptic added it was “one thing to demand Boris does a better job, and another to be helping the opposition”.

Allies had a similar take, with one telling the publication it “takes a traitor to unify the party”.

Tory MP Joy Morrissey, who joined the Tory ranks alongside Mr Wakeford in 2019, said she didn’t think “anything” could have united the party more than “watching someone cross the floor like that”.

Attitudes reforged in the fires of Parliament yesterday may temporarily scupper the bid for a no-confidence vote.

Over the last couple of weeks, several MPs have come forward claiming to have sent a letter to the 1922 Committee.

The committee, which represents the Conservative Party in Parliament, may trigger a vote of no confidence if they receive 54.

At that point, Mr Johnson would have to fight for his life, with 180 MPs required to oust him.

If they prove successful, a leadership bid would follow to decide which MP replaces him in office.

The current consensus amongst the party is that if rebels are having trouble meeting the letters requirement, it is unlikely there is enough appetite for another 126 to follow.

And Mr Johnson is quietly confident, according to The Times, which reported that he told an ally to “bring it on”.

Conservative Prime Ministers have historically survived bids from their own party to replace them.

Theresa May was the most recent survivor following a vote triggered by MPs in December 2018.

She survived by securing 63 percent of the total vote, with 200 votes to 117.

Although 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady has not revealed whether MPs have reached the 54 threshold yet, the next week could prove perilous for Mr Johnson.

In yesterday’s PMQs, he appeared to hint that senior civil servant Sue Gray would deliver her report findings next week.

Ms Gray is investigating parties alleged to have taken place at Number 10 during the lockdown, and until now, there was no confirmed end date for her inquiry.

If what the Prime Minister says is true, he may leave before MPs cross the letters threshold.

The career civil servant may conclude whether or not the parties broke the law, and Mr Johnson knew of them.

If the report finds he was at the party and had prior knowledge of it, as claimed by Dominic Cummings, he would have misled Parliament.

In his Commons apology last week and an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, he claimed he did not know the party broke the rules.

Misleading Parliament – per the ministerial code written and signed off by Mr Johnson – is a resigning offence.

Several cabinet members have confirmed this, including Dominic Raab and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Even if it clears him, the report could still lead more Conservative members to send no-confidence letters.

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