Boris Johnson sacks Michael Gove as levelling-up secretary

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Andrew Bridgen has warned the Prime Minister could suffer a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Conservative MPs next week. The Brexit-backing North West Leicestershire MP also claimed support for the Prime Minister on Conservative benches has plummeted since he saw off an initial attempt to oust him by 211 votes to 148 last month.

Mr Bridgen, who backed Boris Johnson for the top job in 2019, told “The result of a second confidence ballot would be humiliating for Boris Johnson, his support in the parliamentary party is down below 100 out of 359 MPs.”

The 57-year-old added: “He should resign and leave with a shred of decency.”

According to the Telegraph, the Tory whips office has calculated Mr Johnson would get the backing of just 65 Conservative MPs in a second confidence vote.

Following victory in last month’s confidence vote, 1922 Committee rules ensure the Prime Minister does not face a second contest for the next 12 months.

However, while MPs yesterday opted against ripping up the 1922 rulebook, the Tory Party’s backbench executive will elect new officials on Monday.

Around 18 MPs will seek election on a ticket to change the rules while allies of Mr Johnson will look to back those wanting to uphold the status quo.

Normal rules also require 54 MPs to submit letters of no confidence to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.

A wave of new letters have been handed to the Altrincham & Sale West MP, including one from leading ‘Red Wall’ MP Lee Anderson.

Another Tory MP also suggested Mr Johnson could not carry the support of more than 100 Conservative colleagues.

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The MP, who previously voiced support for the Prime Minister, told “This is utterly ridiculous.

“He won’t be able to fill half of the ministerial vacancies.

“In essence, he can’t form a Government.

“Puts the Crown in a very difficult position if he doesn’t fall on [his] sword.”

When asked if leadership contenders were preparing to launch their bids, the MP added: “Not had anything from any contenders.

“Serious contenders should be mobilising though.

“Vote of confidence next week, he’ll be lucky to get into three figures in favour.”

Mr Johnson has come under increasing pressure after ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak and former Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned from Government.

The pair were joined by at least 40 other MPs who quit Mr Johnson’s Government after it emerged the Prime Minister appointed Tamworth MP Chris Pincher to a key welfare role in Government despite being aware of specific allegations of sexual assault made against him.

Michael Gove, an ex-leadership contender and ally to the Prime Minister on the Vote Leave campaign, was also sacked by Mr Johnson as Levelling-Up Secretary.

However, a defiant Mr Johnson told a delegation of senior Cabinet colleagues he was staying put.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce a new plan for the economy in a joint statement with newly-appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi next week.

An insider close to Mr Johnson insisted the Prime Minister was in a “buoyant mood” and was pressing ahead with new Government appointments to reshape his team.

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However, another ally to the Prime Minister suggested Mr Johnson could even pull a snap general election to see off the threat.

They told “Boris doesn’t look like a man on ropes.

“He was indeed buoyant and upbeat at Liaison Committee.

“I think he may go for snap election [as] Bernard Jenkin was very robust on wanting to rule it out in Committee.

“People versus Politicians just like Dec 2019. Polls close.

“Of course risky but he may not have a choice.”

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