Sir David Davis says growing discontent could see Prime Minister ousted later this year


As published by the i newspaper:

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has said discontent is spreading in the Conservative Party and suggested Boris Johnson could be ousted by the end of the year.

The Tory MP claimed there was growing disaffection with the Prime Minister among fellow Conservative MPs over the handling of the Partygate scandal and its impact on their positions in Parliament.

But he said party leadership issues traditionally took a “long time” to be settled and he expected this to be the case with Mr Johnson’s position.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former cabinet minister said: “Nobody in the world could have made it plainer, I don’t think, that I want the Prime Minister to go – I haven’t changed my mind about that.”

He added this was increasingly a feeling shared by other MPs on the Tory benches.

“There is no doubt about that, for two reasons” he said, “Number one, frankly they see their own seats disappearing in many cases, they see themselves losing the next election on the back of this.

“Also, it has a bad effect on the country … it is a distraction on everything you do and it doesn’t help the reputation of the country.”

However, he pointed out both Sir John Major and Theresa May remained at No10 for some time despite backbench revolts, and he expected the same to happen with Boris Johnson.

“I fear we’ll not resolve this until the latter part of the year”, he said.

A number of Tory MPs have called for Mr Johnson to resign since the publication of Sue Gray’s report into partying during Covid restrictions at Downing Street.

Veteran Conservative Sir Bob Neill, a qualified barrister and chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, confirmed on Friday he had submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s premiership following the publication of Ms Gray’s report.

In a post on his website, he wrote: “I have listened carefully to the explanations the prime minister has given, in parliament and elsewhere, and regrettably, do not find his assertions, either that no rules were broken or that he was unaware of the breaches, to be credible.

“That is why, with a heavy heart, I submitted a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady on Wednesday afternoon.”

Earlier on Friday, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s parliamentary aide Tory MP Paul Holmes quit his role due to the “toxic culture” in No 10 uncovered by Ms Gray’s report.

Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns has also publicly stated the Prime Minister “continues not to hold my confidence”.

She said the Partygate inquiry demonstrated Mr Johnson had been “complicit in the holding of many goodbye parties for his staff” which the backbencher said “displayed a complete disregard” for Covid restrictions in place at the time.

It is unclear if she has submitted a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Up to 22 letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership are reported to have been submitted to Sir Graham.

However, it takes a total of 54 to trigger a vote of no confidence.

Pressure on the Prime Minister to quit comes as new modelling by polling firm YouGov has suggested the Conservatives would lose all but three of 88 “battleground” constituencies if a general election were held, putting Mr Johnson’s majority in jeopardy.

It would see Mr Johnson’s own Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat “likely fall” into Labour hands and Red Wall seats such as Blyth Valley and Stoke-on-Trent North revert back to Sir Keir Starmer’s opposition.

Only Ashfield, Bassetlaw, and Dudley North would remain blue, according to YouGov.