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The End Is Nigh? Prime Minister Threatens Snap Election as Opponents Organise Against Him

30 June 2022


The End Is Nigh? Prime Minister Threatens Snap Election as Opponents Organise Against Him
By Scott Harker

The Prime Minister today refused to dispel rumours that he will call a snap general election in an attempt to secure his own position. These rumours have lingered ever since he faced (and then survived) a vote of confidence by his own MPs three weeks ago. The news that Conservative MPs representing marginal constituencies had to submit general election plans to CCHQ today has done nothing to quell them.

The election that everyone should be watching out for over the next week isn’t a hypothetical general one, but the very real one for leadership roles within the 1922 Committee. This is the body that represents the entire Conservative Parliamentary Party and through whose rules Johnson faced the confidence vote earlier this month.

Conservative MPs will be voting for leadership roles within the Committee, which is headed up by six officers who are supported by a further 12 executive members. The current chair is Sir Graham Brady MP. Although unconfirmed, the date of the ballot is expected to be announced next Wednesday.

These positions are important because, collectively, they have the power to set rules for the entire parliamentary party to follow. It is rumoured that, if successful, those opposed to Boris Johnson’s premiership will use the positions to amend the rule that protects Johnson from facing another vote of confidence within 12 months of a previous vote.

In the past, the threat of such a change was enough to accelerate Theresa May’s departure and following the party’s poor performance in last week’s two unsuccessful by-election defences, it appears that Johnson will soon face much the same threat.

Our current Prime Minister is of course a very different character to Theresa May and is likely to continue his (to this point successful) effort to wade through the growing internal discontent with his leadership. Such is his bullishness, he even remarked over the weekend that he would pursue a third term in office.

This effort is looking increasingly forlorn. Previously, Johnson had the benefit of facing opponents that were disunited. The strange timing of the initial confidence vote was caused by a lack of coordination between MPs from different wings of the party. It is now widely accepted that had the vote been held following the by-election defeats rather than ahead of them, a Conservative leadership contest would already be underway.

If all of this wasn’t enough, the Prime Minister also faces an inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee to determine if he misled Parliament as to whether lockdown rules were broken at 10 Downing Street. The Committee began its investigation yesterday and is expected to hold oral evidence sessions in the autumn. A conclusion to this affair is therefore some way off.

In any event, if backbench Conservative MPs are able to organise themselves next week in a way that they weren’t able to at the start of the month, Boris Johnson will likely give evidence to the inquiry as a backbencher himself, and not as Prime Minister.