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Boris Johnson will go down fighting

7 July 2022

6:49 AM

7 July 2022

6:49 AM

Tonight it is clear that the only way Tory MPs can remove Boris Johnson is through the new 1922 executive changing the rules on Monday and a new confidence ballot on Tuesday. Johnson has ignored the pleas from several of his Cabinet to take a dignified exit. He is instead, in the words of one secretary state, ‘on the warpath’. He has sacked Michael Gove for having had the temerity to tell him that he should go, as he could no longer command the support of the parliamentary party.

Johnson is clearly determined to carry on fighting. There’s talk of an economic intervention in the coming days to cancel the corporation tax rise and unfreeze income tax thresholds. But despite Johnson’s determination to fight, he is still going to go down. Tory MPs are looking on in horror tonight. They will elect an executive that is prepared to change the rules and those rules will then be changed as quickly as possible with a vote coming as early as Tuesday.

It is hard to imagine that Johnson will have much chance in the confidence ballot. Earlier this evening, one grandee speculated to me Johnson would get fewer than 100 votes – and it is hard to think that Johnson’s antics aren’t driving that number down still further. There are some who argue that this vote could actually be cathartic for the party, that it could demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of Tory MPs want Johnson gone and that would limit the power of the Johnson myth. But the 120-odd hours to next Tuesday are going to feel very long to the Tory party.

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