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Johnson's loyalists try to steady the ship

6 July 2022

4:45 AM

6 July 2022

4:45 AM

MPs and aides in Westminster are on tenterhooks this evening as to whether more ministers will follow in the footsteps of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak and resign. Yet while some ministers are for now maintaining a vow of silence when it comes to their plans (most notably Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi), others have come out to make clear that they continue to back Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in a bid to stabilise him.

Among those staying in post are Liz Truss – with a source close to her saying the Foreign Secretary is 100 per cent behind the Prime Minister – Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ben Wallace, Dominic Raab and Nadine Dorries (Coffee House has a full list here). These ministers have decided to stick with Johnson – and are names to watch in the cabinet reshuffle Johnson will now have to carry out after losing three senior cabinet ministers in the space of a fortnight.


Speaking to MPs this evening Johnson sounded bullish when it came to his leadership. When addressing his more supportive MPs – who make up the Save Big Dog operation that helped to shore up his position earlier this year – he suggested that Sunak’s departure makes ‘cutting taxes somewhat easier’. This is meant to be a crowd-pleasing message to many of his backbenchers who have called for tax cuts immediately.

With senior members of Johnson’s cabinet like Truss and Gove sticking with the Prime Minister for now, Johnson does not appear to be facing a full-scale cabinet revolt. That ought to buy him time to try to shore up his position. Notably some of the figures backing the Prime Minister – such as Truss and Wallace – have been talked up as leadership hopefuls should there be a contest. By backing Johnson now, they could win the support of Johnson loyalists should the Prime Minister be forced out.

Even if the Prime Minister is, for now, bullish in the face of adversity, Johnson’s closest allies are concerned. One minister who backed Johnson in the leadership told me this afternoon that the Prime Minister just needs to somehow make it to the summer recess – in a fortnight’s time – and then he will have time to regroup. The fact that supporters of a Prime Minister with a majority of 80 are concerned he may not be in No. 10 in two weeks says everything about the opposition Johnson faces on the backbenches – including from his former ministers.

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