June 23, 2022

Byelection defeats live: triple blow for Boris Johnson after Tories lose two seats and party chair resigns

Michael Howard, the former Conservative party leader, is calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation. In a recent interview Howard (who sacked Johnson as a frontbencher in 2004 for lying about an affair, but who now says that he was wrong to do so) refused to say how he would have voted in the recent no-confidence ballot, had he still been an MP.

But Howard has now turned against Johnson in an interview recorded for the World at One. These are from the BBC’s Chris Mason.

Former Leader of the Conservative Party Lord Howard tells @Jonnydymond @BBCWorldatOne that Boris Johnson should resign. More @BBCRadio4 at 1pm https://t.co/BxLlNzkDa9

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

Asked if he thinks the PM should resign he says ‘I do,’ adding ‘the party and more importantly the country would be better off under new leadership.’

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

Lord Howard on @BBCRadio4:

‘Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.’

‘It may be necessary for the executive of the 1922 committee to meet and to decide to change the rules so another leadership could take place.’

Listen to the full interview 1pm

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

A Tory MP who did not want to be identified told PA Media that they wanted Boris Johnson to go. They said:

When we suffered by-election losses during the Cameron years for instance, it was taken on the chin because the government back then was actually doing Conservative things.

Their economic policy, for instance, was far more conservative than today’s literally 80-seat majority Conservative government. People in the party held their nerve because there was a long-term economic plan, which Cameron and Osborne were competent at selling.

That’s why a loss in Tiverton and Honiton can’t just be shrugged off. It precipitates electoral disaster, which can only be avoided by replacing Boris Johnson with the better leadership the Conservative party needs and deserves.

That is all from me for today. My colleague Geneva Abdul is taking over now.

These are from ITV’s Harry Harton on the seats in Yorkshire and the Humber that the Tories would lose on a Wakefield-sized swing to Labour.

Analysis for @itvcalendar by YouGov’s @PME_Politics projects the Conservatives would lose 14 seats to Labour in Yorkshire & Humber if the 12.7% swing to Labour in the Wakefield by-election was replicated at a general election.

— Harry Horton (@harry_horton) June 24, 2022

Calder Valley, Colne Valley, Dewsbury, Don Valley, Great Grimsby, Keighley, Morley and Outwood, Penistone & Stocksbridge, Pudsey, Rother Valley, Scarborough & Whitby, Scunthorpe, Shipley, and York Outer would all flip from Conservative to Labour.

— Harry Horton (@harry_horton) June 24, 2022

Obviously big caveats around by-election results and there are different characteristics in each of those constituencies.

But it shows the challenge the Conservatives would face in Yorkshire & Humber if a general election were held imminently.

— Harry Horton (@harry_horton) June 24, 2022

This is from Sophia Sleigh from HuffPost, who says the report from the privileges committee inquiry into whether or not Boris Johnson lied to MPs over Partygate is now being cited as the danger moment for the PM.

Rumour mill overdrive. Will another minister go? Will any leadership hopefuls fire the starting gun? Some Tory sources think leadership contenders won’t pounce until outcome of privileges committee inquiry into whether Johnson lied to MPs. So yet *another* deadline…

— Sophia Sleigh (@SophiaSleigh) June 24, 2022

We have been here before. Other events cited by Tories who said they want to wait until X before deciding whether to act against the PM include:

1) The publication of the Sue Gray report into Partygate

2) A decision by the police to fine Johnson over Partygate

3) The end of the police investigation into Partygate

4) The local elections

5) Johnson’s Commons response to the Partygate

6) The end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

7) The Wakefield, and Tiverton and Honiton byelections

These are from the academic Robert Saunders, explaining why he thinks Boris Johnson is unlikely to be forced out by a delegation of cabinet ministers.

I’m sceptical of claims that “senior ministers” could force Johnson out.

First, there are no senior ministers: no one with independent standing in the party & strong name recognition with the public. The current cabinet has no one of the stature of Howe, Lawson,Brown or Prescott

— Robert Saunders (@redhistorian) June 24, 2022

Of those ministers who do have a public profile, half would lose their jobs if Johnson went.

The others fear that resigning would wreck their own leadership chances.

That leaves a few middle-ranking figures, like Oliver Dowden.

Not the most fearsome political hit-squad.

— Robert Saunders (@redhistorian) June 24, 2022

It’s hard to see an exit for Johnson that doesn’t involve Tory MPs voting to oust him. It’s no good hoping Sue Gray, the Met, the Procedure Committee, the Cabinet or the “men in grey suits” will do it for them. That’s why I’ve always thought his chances of survival are underrated

— Robert Saunders (@redhistorian) June 24, 2022

(The one high-profile minister who might not quite fit with the above is Rishi Sunak. If he decided that his own leadership ambitions were toast, and that he’d had enough of British politics, he might conceivably be the one to attempt a Reichenbach Falls).

— Robert Saunders (@redhistorian) June 24, 2022

These are from Nadhim Zahawi, education secretary, on the significance of the byelection results.

The voters have spoken, and we need to listen. Conservative voters in particular stayed at home & we need to give them reasons to come back at the next election. We do that with a laser-like focus on delivery; this Government did it with 💉, we are doing it on cost of living 1/2

— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) June 24, 2022

The voters will judge this Conservative Government on what we deliver next. For me, it’s a focus on skills, schools & families. New buildings for Tiverton High School was a big issue in the Tiverton result. We hear you; delivering on real issues like this should be our focus. 2/2

— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) June 24, 2022

Zahawi partly adopts the “Tory voters stayed at home” thesis advanced by David Frost this morning. (See 11.16am.) Patrick English from YouGov explains in these tweets why he thinks Frost is wrong.

This is very poor analysis for 3 reasons.

Firstly, it is mathematically illiterate. Turnout dropped by 17,000 not 20,000.

So, even if we humour Lord Frost for a moment and assume everyone who didn’t turn out was a 2019 Con voter, still 3000 Con voters must have switched parties https://t.co/cFQ3Y1cx4Z

— Patrick English (@PME_Politics) June 24, 2022

It’s difficult without individual level data (e.g. a Tiverton and Honiton poll) to properly gauge what exact proportion of the Conservative to Lib Dem swing was caused by differential turnout changes (more Con voters staying at home than other party voters), but it is not 100%.

— Patrick English (@PME_Politics) June 24, 2022

Lastly, back to humouring here…

How would *twenty thousand* of your party’s voters staying at home in a by-election *not* be something to be deeply concerned about?

If anything like that amount of apathy and disengagement replicated at the next GE, the Conservatives are toast

— Patrick English (@PME_Politics) June 24, 2022

As my colleague Patrick Wintour reports, Boris Johnson has suffered a further defeat at the Commonwealth conference today.

Extraordinary rebuff for Johnson who tried everything to get rid of Baroness Scotland. Officials insisted it was not about politics, but her competence and financial irregularities. Problem remains the big Commonwealth funders want her out and institution now riven. https://t.co/ehZIoVhDus

— Patrick Wintour (@patrickwintour) June 24, 2022

This story from Patrick last month explains the background to this dispute.

Ed Davey with the new MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Richard Foord, and other party activists in the constituency earlier today.

The two byelection defeats are not an “indictment” of Boris Johnson, the Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has said. He told Radio 4’s World at One programme:

It’s a simplification to suggest this is an indictment of Boris Johnson.

Asked about calls by Michael Howard for Johnson to resign, Houchen said: “Obviously what he said should be listened to.”

But Houhen said it would look “ridiculous” to the public if the Conservative party embarked on a leadership contest. People wanted the government to be addressing the cost of living and inflation, he said.

Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathering for a group photograph at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) opening ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda.

Here is a question from below the line that is worth addressing. A VONC is a vote of no confidence.

Andrew, is there any way the tories can get rid of the PM, other than waiting a year for a VONC?

There are probably at least five options – although only one (the first one) seems probable. They are:

1) Changing the 1922 Committee rules, so that MPs do not have to wait another year before they can trigger a second vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson. This now seems increasingly probable. (See 10.36am, 12.24pm and 1.40pm.) What is not clear, though, is when a second one might be held. Six months after the last one (which was on 6 June)? Three months? The 1922 executive can change the rules when it wants, and a new executive is being elected by Tory backbenchers before the summer recess.

2) A vote of no confidence by the voluntary party. In the dying days of Theresa May’s leadership, her opponents dug up an obscure rule in the Conservative party’s constitution saying if at least 65 Conservative association chairs sign a petition, the party has to summon a meeting of the national convention (the voluntary party). This could pass its own motion of no confidence in Johnson. There has been talk of this mechanism being used now.

But the no confidence motion would be non-binding. And the Conservative party rule book is a remarkably flexible document that allows the leadership to do more or less whatever they want. As Paul Webb and Tim Bale point out in The Modern British Party System, the party constitution includes a line saying: “The board shall have the power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the party.” It is not certain that a meeting would take place.

3) A coup against Johnson by his ministers. Michael Howard said today he would like to see this happen (see 1.40pm), and Sir Malcolm Rifkind suggested that just 12 ministers would be enough to force Johnson out (see 1.08pm.) But that seems unlikely. Other prime ministers would humiliated by the withdrawal of confidence of their most senior colleagues. But if Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were to tell Johnson that they could no longer serve under him, it seems just as probable that Johnson would replace them with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, calling in people like Peter Bone to fill in any remaining vacancies. (I originally included Bone in this sentence as a joke, but with Johnson it would be unwise to rule anything out.)

4) A coup against Johnson by his MPs. There is nothing to stop a website like ConservativeHome trying to get a majority of Conservative MPs to sign a petition calling for Johnson’s resignation. But Johnson could just ignore this too. He does not have much in common with Jeremy Corbyn, but both of them are equipped with heroic stubbornness, and in 2016 Corbyn ignored the result of a 172 t0 40 no confidence vote against him by Labour MPs. Corbyn went on to do much better than his MPs expected at the subsequent election.

5) A Commons no confidence vote. Labour could table a vote of no confidence in the government in the Commons, and hope that Tories might join them in voting against Johnson. But that would never happen because it would be a vote against their party and, if it passed, it would probably trigger a general election. Labour could also table a vote of no confidence in Johnson personally. But, unlike a proper no confidence motion, the government would not have to schedule an immediate debate on this, and even if such a motion were passed (debated in opposition time) it would have no constitutional force.

Prev Post

Germany says its energy crisis may trigger Lehman-like contagion as…

Next Post

Google Chrome: Check these 6 new features coming to iOS

Mail Icon


Get Every Weekly Update & Insights

Notice: Undefined variable: mailchimp_shortcode in /homepages/28/d498233257/htdocs/clickandbuilds/TheDailyElevatedNews/wp-content/themes/binduz/template-parts/blog/post-parts/part-mailchimp.php on line 35
[mc4wp_form id=]