Tory MPs vote to decide Boris Johnson’s future as PM says 'I’ll lead you to victory again'

6 June 2022, 05:59 | Updated: 6 June 2022, 20:29

  • Tory MPs cast votes in ballot that will decide Boris Johnson's future as PM
  • Result of confidence vote will be announced at 9pm
  • Sir Graham Brady told PM yesterday he would face vote over his leadership after 54 MPs sent in letters
  • Read the full list of Tories who have come out against the PM at the bottom of this page
Boris Johnson is facing a confidence vote tonight, Sir Graham Brady confirmed. Jeremy Hunt (bottom right) is to vote against the PM
Boris Johnson is facing a confidence vote tonight, Sir Graham Brady confirmed. Jeremy Hunt (bottom right) is to vote against the PM. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Tory MPs were tonight casting their votes to decide Boris Johnson's future as Prime Minister in the wake of the partygate scandal.

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Embattled Mr Johnson had a showdown with members of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench MPs before voting began at 6pm this evening.

Mr Johnson cast his own vote quickly accompanied by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his policy unit chief Andrew Griffith.

Conservative former prime minister Theresa May caused a stir when she arrived to cast her vote wearing a full evening gown. Mrs May refused to say how she voted as she left the committee room.

Before the voting started, Mr Johnson was greeted by the traditional banging of desks as he addressed the group of Tory MPs in a private meeting in Westminster where he said: "I will lead you to victory again."

"The people in this room won the biggest electoral victory for the Conservatives for 40 years under my leadership," said Mr Johnson.

He said it was a "chance to stop talking about ourselves and start talking exclusively about what we are doing for the people of this country."

But senior backbencher Steve Baker stepped out of the room shortly after the speech began, telling a group waiting outside that he will be voting against the PM. “He’s clearly broken the law and he should go," he said.

Mr Baker added that Mr Johnson is likely to win the confidence vote.

Reports emerged that Tory Mark Harper asked the PM why his “colleagues should continue to defend the indefensible” and asked why Mr Johnson removed references to “honesty and integrity” from the foreword of the ministerial code.

A senior party source said Mr Johnson rejected this "very, very aggressively".

Fellow Tory John Baron is also understood to have expressed views highly critical of the PM.

The meeting comes as the Prime Minister faces a fight to cling on to his job, having issued a last-ditch appeal to MPs to back him.

The embattled PM told Tories they should back him so he can “draw a line” under the partygate scandal and take forward the Conservatives as “one united party”.

"Tonight is the moment to draw a line under the issues our opponents want us to talk about - and to focus instead on what really matters: the needs of the voters who sent us to Westminster," he wrote in a letter to Conservative MPs.

"I am asking you for your support tonight because I know how much we can achieve together."

His comments come after former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt declared he will join the bid to eject the PM from Downing Street.

Mr Hunt spoke out hours after backbench chief Graham Brady confirmed that at least 54 MPs had asked for a full ballot triggering a Tory confidence vote this evening. The result of the confidence vote will be announced at 9pm.

Mr Hunt, who lost the last leadership contest to Mr Johnson, tweeted: "Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change."

Earlier today the PM's anti-sleaze chief quit over Partygate. John Penrose resigned as Mr Johnson's Anti-Corruption Champion, urging the Prime Minister to quit and accusing him of having broken the Ministerial Code.

Rebels within the party who have turned on the Prime Minister have submitted at least 54 letters to call a vote, or 15% of the parliamentary party, and the ballot is due to be held between 6 and 8pm.

Mr Johnson will address the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs at around 4pm today as he looks to cling on to his job.

"I've got the press release in front of me from Graham Brady [the chairman of the 1922 Committee]," Sir Roger Gale, a Conservative, told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative party has been exceeded.

"In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 18.00 and 20.00 today, Monday the 6th of June, details to be confirmed. So there will be a ballot today."

Sir Graham said he informed the Prime Minister yesterday, but refused to confirm how many letters had been submitted.

"I notified the Prime Minister yesterday that the threshold had been reached," he told reporters outside Parliament.

"We agreed the timetable for the confidence vote to take place and he shared my view - which is also in line with the rules that we have in place - that that vote should happen as soon as could reasonably take place and that would be today."

He added that some Tories had asked for their letters not to be counted over the jubilee weekend.

In a letter to MPs, Mr Johnson referred to the 2019 election win, Brexit and the vaccine programme as he tried to shore up support ahead of the vote.

He said that while some criticism has been "less" than fair, "where there have been valid points, I have listened and learned".

"With your support, I believe that tonight we have a great prize in our grasp.

"We can put an end to the media's favourite obsession.

"We can get on with the job without the noises off."

Downing Street 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."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC: "I think history tells us that this is the beginning of the end.

"If you look at the previous examples of no confidence votes, even when Conservative Prime Ministers survive those - and he might survive it tonight - the damage is already done.

"Usually, they fall reasonably swiftly afterwards."

He told Tory MPs they should oust him because it is in the "national interest".

Tories who backed the PM, including members of the Cabinet, all said he "got the big calls right".

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey tweeted: "PM has got the big calls right - Covid, Ukraine, jobs, levelling up mission, cost of living help (and) he got Brexit done."

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng posted: "Brexit done, vaccine rollout, record low unemployment, Ukraine response - the Prime Minister has got the big calls right and I will back him enthusiastically in today's vote."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace tweeted: "On Covid, on Ukraine he has helped deliver a world leading response. He has my full confidence."

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: "Every big decision bang on. He has my vote."

But on the other side of the fence, Jeremy Hunt - who challenged Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership in 2019 - said he will vote for "change" tonight.

"The Conservative Party must now decide if it wishes to change its leader. Because of the situation in Ukraine this was not a debate I wanted to have now but under our rules we must do that," he said.

"Having been trusted with power, Conservative MPs know in our hearts we are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve. We are not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.

"And because we are no longer trusted by the electorate, who know this too, we are set to lose the next general election.

"Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today's decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change."

Mr Johnson's Tory opponents spent the jubilee bank holiday sending around a memo of 13 reasons to boot him out.

It said the only way the Conservatives will win another general election will be without Mr Johnson as Prime Minister.

"The damage done to trust in Boris Johnson is such that popular policies are falling flat with the public (e.g. cost of living measures)," the Times quoted the memo as saying.

"A pollster has dubbed him the 'Conservative Corbyn' because of this."

Another reason given was the booing directed at Mr Johnson when he arrived at Friday's thanksgiving service for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee on Friday.

Watch: Astonishing moment Boris Johnson gets booed at Queen's thanksgiving service

Mr Johnson was reportedly also booed at an East London restaurant where his son Theo worked, dismissively holding his hand out as he left.

Read more: 'I'd have been tempted': Shelagh Fogarty compares booing of Boris to ex-politicians

Rebel Conservatives do not believe they have enough colleagues onside to secure the 180 votes needed to kick Mr Johnson out, it was reported.

The Prime Minister would be immune from another confidence vote for a year if he survived, which he is thought to be confident of achieving.

"He's got as much clue as anyone else. He's just wanting to get on with things. If it comes, it comes," one of his allies said.

Which Tory MPs have publicly called for Boris Johnson to resign?

Jeremy Hunt - MP for South West Surrey

John Penrose - MP for Weston-Super-Mare

Mark Pawsey - MP for Rugby & Bulkington

David Simmonds - MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

William Wragg - MP for Hazel Grove and Vice-Chairman of the 1922 Committee

Caroline Nokes - MP Romsey and Southampton North

Tim Loughton - MP for East Worthing

David Davis - MP for Haltemprice and Howden

Andrew Mitchell - MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield

Peter Aldous - MP for Waveney

Tobias Ellwood - chairman of the defence select committee and MP for Bournemouth East

Sir Gary Streeter - MP for South West Devon

Anthony Mangnall - MP for Totnes

Aaron Bell - MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme

Sir Nick Gibb - MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

Craig Whittaker - MP for Calder Valley

Nigel Mills - MP for Amber Valley

Karen Bradley - MP for Staffordshire Moorlands

Mark Harper - MP for Forest of Dean

Steve Baker - MP for Wycombe

Sir Roger Gale - MP for North Thanet

Julian Sturdy – MP for York Outer

Angela Richardson – MP for Guildford

Steve Brine – MP for Winchester

David Simmonds - MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

John Baron - MP for Basildon and Billericay

Stephen Hammond - MP for Wimbledon

Alicia Kearns - MP for Rutland and Melton

Sir Bob Neill - MP for Bromley and Chislehurst

Anne Marie Morris - MP for Newton Abbot

Jeremy Wright - MP for Kenilworth and Southam

Elliot Colburn - MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Andrew Bridgen - MP for North West Leicestershire

John Stevenson - MP for Carlisle

Jesse Norman – MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire