June 5, 2022

Graham Brady reportedly set to announce vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson by Tory MPs

Sir Graham Brady is speaking to reporters now.

He confirms what was in the statement he sent out earlier.

He says the result will be announced “shortly” after the ballot closes at 8pm.

Arrangements will be in place for Tory MPs needing proxy votes.

He says he told Boris Johnson yesterday that the threshold had been reached. They agreed the vote should take place as soon as possible.

He refuses to say how many letters he received.

Asked when the threshold was reached, he says it is complicated, because some MPs said they only wanted their letter to be effective from the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Tory MPs have been told, if they take a picture of their ballot paper, their vote will be invalid, ITV’s Anushka Asthana reports. Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee, has stressed this to ensure that MPs do not come under pressure from No 10 to produce evidence that they actually did vote for Boris Johnson.

New- just seen an interesting email to MPs from Sir Graham Brady- who is running tonight’s confidence vote as chair of the 1922 committee. A big warning about it being confidential- and no pics of ballot papers to be taken or vote void pic.twitter.com/YuAz2lFVlY

— Anushka Asthana (@AnushkaAsthana) June 6, 2022

In the past Tory prime ministers have often found that the number of MPs saying they will support them in a leadership contest, or a no confidence ballot, is not the same as the number who actually do.

This is from Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader. He is echoing the line used by Labour’s Wes Streeting (see 10.09am), who also said Tory MPs should remove their leader.

It’s judgement day for Conservative MPs and their sleaze-ridden Prime Minister.

If they fail to sack Boris Johnson, it will be an insult to all those who made sacrifices and suffered while he partied.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) June 6, 2022

At one point opinion was divided within the Labour party as to whether it was in their best interests for Johnson to go, or whether Labour would do better at the next election if Johnson were remain in office. Now the evidence is clearer that Johnson is a huge liability for his party. James Johnson, a pollster who used to work for Theresa May in Downing Street, explained why yesterday in a Twitter thread starting here on polling from Wakefield, where a byelection is taking place later this month.

NEW @JLPartnersPolls in @thesundaytimes with @ShippersUnbound

Labour have a 20-point lead over the Conservatives in the Red Wall seat of Wakefield, ahead of the by-election later this month

The main reason given for voting Labour is Boris Johnson

Thread on the details. (1/10)

— James Johnson (@jamesjohnson252) June 4, 2022

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, told Times Radio this morning that voters would judge Conservative MPs “very harshly” if they allowed Boris Johnson to remain in office. He said:

Well, they’ve got two choices, no confidence or no backbone. Voters will judge Conservative MPs rightly, very harshly if they stick by this discredited and disgraced prime minister.

It’s one thing for Boris Johnson to try and get through this and hope that he can make it through to the next general election and that voters will forgive him. But I don’t think voters will forgive Conservative MPs who when presented with the opportunity to give the country better leadership effectively turn around and say that the Conservative party has no one else available, but Boris Johnson is the best that the Conservative party has to offer.

Sir Graham Brady speaking to members of the media outside the Houses of Parliament earlier following his announcement that a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson as Tory leader will take place tonight.

The Jesse Norman letter to Graham Brady calling for a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson is one of the most damning yet published. (See 7.50am.) Much of it could come straight out of a Guardian editorial. Here are some of the main points.

  • Norman says the government under Johnson lacks a “sense of mission” and that “sensible planning has been replaced by empty rhetoric”. He says:

You are simply seeking to campaign, to keep changing the subject and to create political and cultural dividing lines mainly for your advantage, at a time when the economy is struggling, inflation is soaring and growth is anaemic at best.

  • Norman says the Sue Gray report revealed “a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street in relation to Covid” and that it was “grotesque” for Johnson to claim he had been vindicated by it.
  • Norman says Johnson’s plan to abandon parts of the Northern Ireland protocol would “economically very damaging, politically foolhardy and almost certainly illegal”.
  • He says the plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda is “ugly, likely to be counterproductive and of doubtful legality”.
  • He says the Channel 4 privatisation plan is “an unnecessary and provocative attempt to address a political non-issue during a time of crisis, at significant cost to the independent UK film and TV industry”.
  • He says “no genuinely Conservative government” would have passed the ban on noisy protests in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
  • He says Johnson is trying to implement in part “a presidential system of government that is entirely foreign to our constitution and law”.
  • And he says that if Johnson were to remain in office a Labour victory at the next general election would be “much more likely”, which would be “potentially catastrophic for this country”.

But it is not all negative. Norman praises Johnson for his handling of Ukraine and Covid.

As prime minister, you have been dealt a very difficult hand with Covid and Ukraine, and you deserve great credit for much of the way in which the Government has handled these twin crises. Your recent visit to Kyiv was a conspicuous act of leadership.

Norman is married to Kate Bingham, who ran the government’s vaccine taskforce.

Some readers might wonder why Norman is only saying all this now. In a paragraph that is revealing about how No 10 tried to maintain the loyalty of MPs, Norman says that when he quit the government in last year’s reshuffle, Johnson floated the possibility of him returning, and being given a cabinet job, in the future.

Norman implies that he has only recently decided that he would find such an offer unacceptable. He says:

When I stepped down from the Treasury last September, you raised the topic of the next reshuffle, and we discussed the potential for me to run a department of state.

I have always been deeply committed to public service. But recent events have served to clarify the position this country is in under your leadership, beyond any doubt; and I am afraid I can see no circumstances in which I could serve in a government led by you.

Jesse Norman.

Cabinet ministers have been using Twitter to declare their support for Boris Johnson.

This is from Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, who will certainly stand as a candidate to replace Johnson if he loses.

The Prime Minister has my 100% backing in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him.

He has delivered on covid recovery and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He has apologised for mistakes made.

We must now focus on economic growth.

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) June 6, 2022

This is from Rishi Sunak, who until recently was seen as a favourite to replace Johnson, and who is still a potential contender.

From the vaccine rollout to our response to Russian aggression, the PM has shown the strong leadership our country needs.

I am backing him today and will continue to back him as we focus on growing the economy, tackling the cost of living and clearing the Covid backlogs.

— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) June 6, 2022

And this is from Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, who in the leadership contest in 2016 famously backed Johnson for leader before withdrawing his support and standing against him.

I’ll be voting for Boris this evening. The PM got the big decisions right on Brexit and Covid. We need to focus now on defending Ukraine, driving levelling-up and generating growth. We need to move past this moment and unite behind Boris to meet these challenges

— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) June 6, 2022

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, responded to the news that a no confidence vote in Boris Johnson will be held tonight by telling the Today programme that this would give the Conservative party a chance to “draw a line” under the recent leadership controversy. He said:

I see it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for the party to put behind it all this frenzied speculation we’ve had over the last few days and to get behind a programme of delivery …

If [Johnson] wins then that draws a line under this …

As a democratic party, you follow the rules and a win is a win and then we unite behind our leader and keep on delivering – that’s what this is about.

Many MPs would argue that, if a leader wins a no confidence vote only narrowly, then they ought to resign anyway because of the damage done to their authority. But Johnson’s allies have been adopting the line used by Javid, that a win is a win, and saying that he will stay on even if his margin of victory is small.

Boris Johnson welcomes the chance to make his case to MPs, Downing Street claims. In a statement a No 10 spokesperson said:

Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities. The PM welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs and will remind them that when they’re united and focused on the issues that matter to voters there is no more formidable political force.

That final sentence is ambiguous. Is Johnson saying that there is no more formidable political force than himself, when the party is behind him, or no more formidable political force than a united Conservative party focused on the issues that matter?

His problem is that, no matter what the outcome of the ballot is tonight, it will not show that the party is united.

Brady will not say whether he has submitted a letter to himself calling a no-confidence vote, but he says it would be “slightly odd thing to do” given his position.

And he says that, while technically it would be possible to change the rules, as they stand now if Boris Johnson wins there will be a year-long “period of grace” during which a further leadership contest cannot take place.

Technically it’s possible for rules to be changed but the rule at present is there would be a period of grace.

Sir Graham Brady is speaking to reporters now.

He confirms what was in the statement he sent out earlier.

He says the result will be announced “shortly” after the ballot closes at 8pm.

Arrangements will be in place for Tory MPs needing proxy votes.

He says he told Boris Johnson yesterday that the threshold had been reached. They agreed the vote should take place as soon as possible.

He refuses to say how many letters he received.

Asked when the threshold was reached, he says it is complicated, because some MPs said they only wanted their letter to be effective from the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Sir Graham Brady will have decided the timing for the no-confidence vote – between 6pm and 8pm tonight (see 8.12am) – after consultation with Boris Johnson. This is about as early as humanly possible – it had been reported that the vote was likely on Tuesday or Wednesday – and this reflects what happened in 2018, when the vote of no confidence in Theresa May was held 24 hours after Brady told May the threshold for a ballot had been reached. At the time that was seen as advantageous to her, because it gave her opponents less time to organise. No 10 probably made the same calculation in relation to the vote today.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has been doing interviews on behalf of the government today. He told BBC Breakfast it was “likely” that there would be a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson. He said:

My understanding probably isn’t much more than yours because you’ll probably know, or many of your viewers will know, that to have what’s called the vote of confidence requires at least 54 of my colleagues to write into Sir Graham Brady, to ask for one.

Now, will that happen? I don’t know. That’s that’s a decision for my colleagues. I think it’s likely that something like that will happen. But it’s not something that I could tell you definitively.

But it’s not what I think actually the country needs. I hope there isn’t – you have to be prepared but I think that what the country wants is for the government to get on and focus on the job at hand, which we are.

Jesse Norman, the Tory MP and former Treasury minister, has announced that he has written to Sir Graham Brady calling for a no confidence vote in Boris Johnson.

I have supported Boris Johnson for 15 years, for the London Mayoralty and for PM. Very sadly, I have written to him to say I can no longer do so, for the reasons set out below. pic.twitter.com/0Mjs4hjeSF

— Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) June 6, 2022

This brings the number of Conservative MPs who have publicly said they have submitted a letter calling for a no-confidence vote close to 30. But there are thought to be just as many MPs who have submitted letters who have done so in secret. Here is the Specatator’s tally from last week, and this was from Tom Larkin at Sky News.

Shiny new spreadsheet, now with EXTRA exciting data:

😡43 MPs questioning PM’s position
❌30 don’t support him as leader
👋28 calling for him to go now
✒️18 confirmed letters

Plus a breakdown of Brexit votes + state of majorities. pic.twitter.com/IaMkW458YH

— Tom Larkin (@TomLarkinSky) June 1, 2022

This is what Sir Graham Brady said last week when asked if he had already received 54 letters calling for a no-confidence vote. “I’ll retain my discretion,” he said.

‘It’s a confidential process and I’ll retain my discretion and say nothing more at the moment’

A smiling @SirGrahamBrady speaks to ITV News after being asked whether there are enough no confidence letters to trigger a vote on @BorisJohnson‘s leadership https://t.co/3rpifr35bn pic.twitter.com/8CkC0T4qLx

— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) May 31, 2022

This was generally taken as being an elaborate way of saying “no comment”. But it might also have been a reference to the considerable flexibility (discretion) Brady has as chairman of the 1922 Committee to interpret the leadership contest rules. There are formal rules, but they are not published by the 1922 Committee, which leaves it up to the chairman to decide exactly how they are implemented. There has been speculation that the threshold of 54 letters was reached last week, but that Brady decided to hold off an announcement until today so as not to distract from the platinum jubilee celebrations.

Good morning. After four days of tributes to the nation’s much-loved head of state, attention focuses to the head of government, Boris Johnson, who is held in rather lower esteem than the Queen – both at home and across the world – and who now seems almost certain to face a no-confidence vote of Tory MPs within the next day or two.

A vote of no confidence has to take place when Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, receives letters demanding one from 15% of Tory MPs (which at the moment means 54 of them). There are reports that Brady is set to announce that this threshold has been met within the hour.

This is from ITV’s Paul Brand.

BREAKING: Tory rebels expect Sir Graham Brady to make a statement this morning announcing that there will be a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson.

Only Brady knows the exact details, but this is as certain as anyone has sounded that a vote is on.

— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) June 6, 2022

If the format follows previous occasions then Sir Graham Brady will make a short statement to the cameras. A secret ballot of Tory MPs would then follow within days.

It’s only happening when Sir Graham Brady says so, but like I say this is sounding pretty imminent.

— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) June 6, 2022

And this is from Lucy Fisher from Times Radio.

BREAKING: A confidence vote in Boris Johnson is set to be announced this morning, I understand.

Sir Graham Brady is expected to make a statement to camera around 8am confirming that the threshold of 54 letters has been met, I’m told.

— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) June 6, 2022

The Tory MP Sir Roger Gale told the Today programme a few minutes ago that Brady is “tight as a clam” and he has not yet confirmed that an announcement is coming. But broadcasters often tend to hear about these things first (they need to get cameras in place) and at Westminster the assumption is that a vote is now happening. The last time Brady announced a no-confidence vote in a PM (Theresa May), he did so in an announcement at 8am.

Today I will almost exclusively be focusing on the Tory leadership crisis, but there are two events on the agenda worth noting.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

1.30pm: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee on the cost of living.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com.

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