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1922 committee: Tory MPs demand immediate rule change to force Boris Johnson from No 10

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Tory MPs are demanding an immediate rule change to the party’s rulebook in order to force Boris Johnson from office after the devastating resignations of two cabinet ministers.

As the prime minister fights for his political survival, former minister Chris Skidmore said he no longer had confidence in Mr Johnson and said it was vital the Conservatives’ 1922 committee “urgently reconsider the rules”.

Simon Hoare, another senior Tory MP, said he had also written to the chair of the committee, Sir Graham Brady, requesting a rule change in order to ballot Tory MPs on whether they have confidence in Mr Johnson.

Posting on social media, the Tory MP Mr Hoare said: “This will come as no surprise to those who know me but I have written to Graham Brady asking for a rule change governing the holding of a no confidence vote & a further confidence vote to be held.”

“Changes is needed & needed now: for the sake of our country, my constituents & my party,” he added.

Last night, a third MP, Anthony Browne, said Mr Johnson must be removed from office, describing the situation as “completely untenable”.

“I fully support a change in the rules of the 1922 committee to enable another vote of no confidence.”

After narrowly surviving a no confidence vote last month, Mr Johnson, under the current 1922 committee rules, is technically safe from another for a 12-month period, until June 2023.

But the prime minister’s fate may ultimately lie with backbench MPs if the committee’s rules are changed to allow another vote. It is also expected that elections to the 1922 committee will take place next week, potentially increasing the chances of a rule change.

In a letter to Sir Graham, former energy minister Mr Skidmore said the prime minister had “not been truthful to the media, to his own advisers and No 10 officials, and to the party in disclosing what he knew” over allegations against the former deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher.

He added: “It is vital therefore that the 1922 must now urgently reconsider the rules that prevent a new vote of no confidence from taking place.

“The prime minister has made it clear that he will not change. It is therefore time that we change the prime minister”.

Chairman of the Tories’ 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady (PA)
Chairman of the Tories’ 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady (PA)

As the drip-feed of resignation letters from junior ministers and ministerial aides continued on Wednesday, Tory MPs from across the party also made clear the prime minister had lost their confidence.

Robert Halfon, who has been critical of Mr Johnson, but remained loyal, said he had never “come out out against” a Tory leader “until now”.

“I gave the prime minister the benefit of the doubt before. I saw the prime minister in January and urged him to return to being the prime minister that people voted for in 2019. This has not happened,” he said.

“I can’t bring myself to do this again and I refuse to do so. If there is a vote for a change in leadership, I will now vote for that change”

Lee Anderson, a Conservative MP elected in 2019 for the Red Wall seat of Ashfield, also questioned the prime minister’s integrity, stressing that he had remained loyal to Mr Johnson since his election.

“However my position has changed over the past few days since the incident which led to the deputy chief whip (Chris Pincher) losing the party whip.”

He said giving Mr Pincher the job, having been told about earlier inappropriate behaviour, was “not a good appointment” by Mr Johnson.

He highlighted the initial denial that the Prime Minister had been told about earlier allegations and then the change in the Government’s position to state that Mr Johnson simply forgot.

“I cannot look myself in the mirror and accept this. It is my belief that our PM has got all the big decisions right and guided us through the most difficult time in my life time and I have always backed him to the hilt.”

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