Boris Johnson Will Be Toppled By His Own MPs, Says Tory Elections Guru
Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London addressing supporters during a rally for the 'Vote Leave' campaign. (Photo: Christopher Furlong via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is on course to be toppled by his own MPs in the coming months, a Tory peer said today.
Polling guru Lord Hayward said that the “mood has turned against the prime minister” in recent days and that he believed he will be dumped as Conservative leader.
His comments are significant given his record of successfully predicting political change.
The peer stunned the political establishment two weeks before the EU referendum in 2016 when he correctly declared the polls were wrong and that Britain would vote to leave.
It is quite striking that since Easter the position has changed dramatically. I do expect some form of election at some stage over the coming months unless people see some dramatic event which I don’t.Lord Hayward
His intervention came as the partygate scandal plunged Johnson’s premiership into fresh doubt after the PM was fined for breaching lockdown rules.
In another blow for Johnson, MPs yesterday called in the privileges committee to investigate whether he misled parliament by insisting the Covid laws were followed in Downing Street at all times.
Hayward said that before Easter there was “some criticism” of Johnson but after MPs returned from their break, the “mood has turned against” him.
He told BBC Radio 4′s World At One that whatever their feelings before, Tory MPs were now more sceptical and critical of the prime minister.
Asked if it reminded him of 1989, when Margaret Thatcher faced a leadership challenge that marked the start of her downfall, Hayward replied: “I think quite definitely.
“I think we are moving to a position despite what the prime minister says that...Tory MPs, Tory associations, Tory councillors do not want an even more protracted process.
“We’ve had it basically since before Christmas. I expect that there will be some form of contest for leadership at some stage, not immediately, but the support for the prime minister is being eroded quite markedly and has been since the recess.”
Asked if he thought it was being eroded in a way that could not be reversed, he replied: “Yes, I think if one looks forward, there is the decision of the police in relation to future fines, possibly more investigations, you’ve got the Sue Gray report and then you would have the privileges committee and this would be death by 1,000 cuts.”
NEW One ex-Cabinet minister gets in touch to tell me of "a groundswell of support for Jeremy Hunt amongst colleagues" which will manifest itself after May 5.
The MP says: "He's not contaminated by Boris ... He's a serious player for serious times."
— Christopher Hope📝 (@christopherhope) April 22, 2022
He said the Conservative Party and particularly the MPs were moving towards a position where this matter “has to be resolved”.
Asked if Johnson was heading towards “political death”, Hayward replied: “Yes, I do think so. I changed my view at the Easter recess, I was clear that the process would be handled slowly and steadily.
“But I think what we’re now seeing is I expect there to be a challenge to his leadership in some form or another.”
Hayward said the “only thing” he could see that might cause a delay would be the fact that there is not a “clear alternative”.
The Tory peer said MPs and senior members of the party were looking around for an alternative, although “they won’t necessarily admit it”.
It comes as The Telegraph reported that support for ex-foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt - who was beaten by Johnson in the 2019 leadership election - was growing.
A former cabinet minister told the paper there was “a groundswell of support for Jeremy Hunt amongst colleagues” which will manifest itself after May 5.
Former government chief whip Mark Harper has also said he expects Johnson to face a vote of no confidence from his own MPs within the next three months.
However, Johnson remained bullish today as he insisted he would be prime minister for the foreseeable future.
Asked on an official visit to India if he would still be in Number 10 when the Hindu festival of Diwali takes place on October 24, the PM replied: “The answer is yes.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.