- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Boris Johnson has reminded Tory MPs that the Conservative Party won its biggest electoral victory in 40 years under his leadership.
The prime minister was greeted by the traditional banging of desks as he addressed a private meeting in Westminster ahead of Monday evening's confidence vote.
Mr Johnson warned MPs against "getting into some hellish Groundhog Day debate" about the merits of belonging in the European Union's single market and reigniting old Brexit rows.
He reminded them of "what an incredible force we can be when we are united" and pointed out the party won its biggest electoral victory in 40 years under his leadership, when he secured an 80-seat majority at the 2019 general election.
"The people in this room won the biggest electoral victory for the Conservatives for 40 years under my leadership," he said.
It comes ahead of a confidence vote which took place between 6pm and 8pm this evening in the House of Commons, with the result expected around an hour after voting closes.
The vote represents the biggest threat to Mr Johnson's leadership so far.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson sent MPs a letter in which he said he has "come under a great deal of fire" in recent months over partygate and admitted "some of that criticism has perhaps been fair, some less so".
But he said the confidence vote was a "golden chance to put this behind us", and added: "With your support, I believe that tonight we have a great prize within our grasp."
"We can put an end to the media's favourite obsession. We can get on with the job without the noises off," he wrote after listing the COVID vaccine rollout, low unemployment, helping Ukraine and sending migrants to Rwanda as his successes.
It comes after it was confirmed at least 54 MPs - 15% of Tory MPs - had written to the chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson.
Sir Graham said he notified the prime minister on Sunday that the threshold had been reached and they agreed on timings for the vote on Monday evening together.
For the prime minister to be ousted, half of Tory MPs plus one would need to vote against him, which is currently 180 MPs.
If he wins, he will remain as party leader and prime minister and would be, under current rules, immune from another such challenge for a year.
If he loses, a contest to choose a new party leader and prime minister will take place, with Mr Johnson barred from standing.
However, even if he does win by a small minority, it is unclear how long he will be able to continue - Theresa May survived a confidence vote in 2018 with two-thirds of MPs supporting her but stepped down just five months later.
The letters to the 1922 Committee came after increased pressure on the prime minister over the partygate revelations of lockdown-breaking events in Downing Street and Whitehall, for which Mr Johnson received a single fine.
There was a surge of Conservative MPs calling for Mr Johnson to go following the publication of Sue Gray's damning report into partygate.
A snap poll by YouGov on Monday found 60% of Britons think Tory MPs should vote to remove Mr Johnson as leader, while 32% of Conservative voters want him gone. Some 50% of Conservative voters think it is right to hold a confidence vote in him while 40% think it is wrong.