Several Conservative MPs have publicly called for Boris Johnson to resign following the prime minister’s admission that he attended a Downing Street garden party during England’s first national lockdown.
The developments have prompted speculation that the 54 letters of no confidence needed to oust the PM could soon be reached.
Conservative Party rules state that at least 15% of Tory MPs must write a no-confidence letter to make a leadership challenge possible.
This figure currently equates to 54 Conservative MPs needing to submit a letter to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.
Letters are handed in confidentially, so no accurate total of how many have been submitted to Sir Graham is publicly available.
But here are the names of the Conservative MPs who have confirmed they have handed in a letter of no confidence so far:
Sir Roger Gale
In December, the MP for North Thanet became the first Conservative to declare he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister back in the middle of December.
Sir Roger, who has been a longstanding and vocal critic of the Mr Johnson, told the BBC: “I put in a letter to Sir Graham Brady after the Barnard Castle incident, because that gave a message to me that this was not the kind of leadership that I believe the Conservative Party needed.”
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives said Mr Johnson’s position was “no longer tenable” following the PM’s admission that he attended a “bring your own booze” drinks event at Number 10 at the height of the UK’s first national lockdown in May 2020.
Confirming he had submitted a letter, Mr Ross told broadcasters: “I don’t want to be in this position, but I am in this position now, where I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives.”
The Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire said he had handed in a letter to Sir Graham as Mr Johnson’s position was now “untenable” following the Downing Street ‘partygate’ scandal.
“‘Leadership is not just about the job title, or even making big decisions – it is equally about having a moral compass, of knowing not just right from left but right from wrong,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Telegraph.
How do you defend the indefensible?
It’s embarrassing and what’s worse is it further erodes trust in politics when it’s already low.
We need openness, trust and honesty in our politics now more than ever and that starts from the top!
— Christian Wakeford MP (@Christian4BuryS) January 12, 2022
Elected to serve the former ‘red wall’ seat of Bury South in the 2019 election, Mr Wakeford has confirmed to Sky News that he has handed in a letter.
Last week, amid the growing ‘partygate’ claims, Mr Wakeford tweeted: “How do you defend the indefensible? You can’t! It’s embarrassing and what’s worse is it further erodes trust in politics when it’s already low. We need openness, trust and honesty in our politics now more than ever and that starts from the top!”
However, with just 10 minutes to go before PMQs, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer confirmed Mr Wakeford had defected to the Labour Party.
It is therefore understood that Mr Wakeford’s letter will no longer counts towards the total.
Others who have publicly called for the PM to go:
Some Conservative MPs have publicly expressed their desire for a new leader to take over the party, but are keeping their cards close to their chests when it comes to whether or not they have submitted a no-confidence letter:
The former minister who represents the Romsey and Southampton North constituency has called for Mr Johnson to go, saying he is “damaging” the Conservative Party.
“The prime minister, when it came to winning that election in 2019, did a fantastic job but now, regretfully, he looks like a liability. He either goes now or he goes in three years time at a general election,” she told ITV.
The MP for Hazel Grove, who is also the vice-chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, has also said the PM’s position is now “untenable”.
“I don’t believe it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the prime minister and indeed who governs this country. I think it is for the Conservative Party, if not the prime minister, in fact, to make that decision, and to realise what is in the best interest, so that we can move forward both as a party and a country,” he told BBC Radio 4.
The former minister called for the prime minister to resign at PMQs after saying he has spent weeks defending him from “angry constituents”.
Mr Davis told the Commons: “I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take. Yesterday he did the opposite of that. So, I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain.
“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!”
Mr Davis later told reporters that Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby’s interview with the PM on Tuesday had been a factor in his decision, but that he has not put a letter of no confidence in yet.
The ‘pork pie plot’
Meanwhile, a mutiny led by ‘red wall’ Tory MPs elected in 2019 is said to be close to reaching the numbers required to trigger a leadership contest.
There are claims that 20 ‘red wallers’ are poised to submit letters to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady after PMQs, taking the total close to the 54 that would prompt a no-confidence vote.
But other MPs claim some potential mutineers are prepared to wait for the verdict of Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray’s report on Downing Street parties before submitting their letter to Sir Graham.
The 2019 intake mutiny is said to have been co-ordinated at a lunchtime meeting being called the “pork pie plot”, because one of the plotters was Alicia Kearns, new MP for Rutland and Melton, home of the Melton Mowbray pork pie.
Later, it was claimed, more than 100 Tory MPs attended a dinner at the Carlton Club on Tuesday evening, the elite spiritual home of the Conservative Party establishment, where conversation was all about whether Mr Johnson can survive or is finished.
Around 12 more letters of no confidence were handed in by members of the 2019 intake on Wednesday morning, according to Sky News political correspondents Sam Coates and Joe Pike.
But the truth is, only Sir Graham knows the real number of letters that have been submitted.