The dissent within the ranks of the U.K.’s governing Conservative Party continues to grow at speed after it was revealed on Wednesday morning that more letters of no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been filed with the party’s 1922 Committee.
Christopher Hope, the political editor of right-leaning British newspaper, The Telegraph, confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that 11 Conservative MPs elected at the most recent election in 2019 had now submitted their letters to the Committee, to add to the 20 letters already understood to have been filed.
Hope tweeted that one of the rebels had told him: “Senior ministers comments saying we’re fools, etc., have taken most over the edge. They would have done better to reach out rather lash out.”
One Conservative MP reportedly told Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday newspaper: “Boris broke down in tears in front of several of us yesterday. He kept saying sorry. He knows he’s finished.”
The Conservative parliamentary group, the 1922 Committee, has historically been used as a vehicle for Conservative MPs to voice their dissatisfaction with the party’s top brass, enabling them to anonymously submit a letter of no confidence in the leader. When the number of letters reaches a certain threshold, the chairman of the 1922 Committee will make the party aware, a move that triggers a formal vote of confidence — currently, that threshold is set at a minimum of 54 Conservative MPs.
Whilst MPs are not obliged to confirm whether or not they have submitted a letter of no confidence in the party leader, it has in recent times often proved customary to do so to exert pressure on the leader.
One MP who publicly announced his decision to submit a letter was North West Leicestershire’s Andrew Bridgen, a prominent Brexiteer and previous ardent supporter of Boris Johnson.
Bridgen thanked Johnson for effectively delivering Brexit and overseeing Britain’s vaccination roll out, but insisted these “excellent results” do not make up for “what revelations have come out over the last five, six weeks and continue to come out,” referring to the continuous news stories highlighting a number of parties that took place at Downing Street which allegedly breached coronavirus regulations.
“What it looks like to me is that during the lockdown periods, Boris Johnson and those in his inner circle can do what they want, and the rest of us have had to do as we’re told,” Bridgen told fledgling British broadcaster, GB News. “That’s completely unacceptable to me, it’s unacceptable for my constituents and the vast majority of the people in the country.
“It makes the prime minister’s position untenable, and the constant drip out of further revelations are paralyzing the prime minister’s ability to function and affecting the government’s ability to function … He should now do the honorable thing, he should depart,” Bridgen added.
Other MPs who have publicly announced their submission of a letter include long-serving North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, and Christian Wakeford, a member of the 2019 cohort who gained Bury South for the Conservatives from Labour for the first time since 1992.
Remix News has since learned that Wakeford has on Wednesday defected to the opposition Labour Party.
Latest polling revealed a public disapproval rating in the government of 63 percent, with 64 percent of respondents believing it is time for Boris Johnson to stand down, a figure that is up from 48 percent in November. This dissatisfaction is made even more evident in voting intentions, with Labour enjoying an eight-point lead over the Conservatives around the country, and a huge 32-point lead in London.