Rebel conservatives have given Boris Johnson time until the party conference to change direction or warn the rules could be changed to accommodate another challenge as Dominic Raab said the “democratic outcome” of the vote must be respected.
Johnson lost the confidence of 41% of his MPs in a vote on his leadership Monday night, following weeks of anger at Downing Street parties breaking the lockdown and fears the party’s direction is causing a slump in the polls.
The prime minister will try this week to reassert control of the political agenda by confirming that the government will table legislation to override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol – a move likely to further heighten tensions with some of his party critics. increase.
He will also give a major speech on housing on Thursday, including an intention to extend the purchase law to housing associations.
A landmark assessment of the NHS’s leadership designed to ‘raise’ failing trusts is also expected to be reported this week. On Tuesday morning, Johnson will tell his cabinet about new plans in the coming weeks to lower childcare costs – broadly informed as caregivers can adopt more children.
Johnson will also reiterate to the cabinet a desire to improve delivery, particularly on the cost of living, crime and the NHS backlog.
“This is a government that is doing what the people of this country care about most,” he will say, reiterating what the government has achieved in terms of domestic support and the recruitment of police officers.
“Today I promise to continue to deliver on these priorities. We are on the side of hard-working Britons and we continue with the work.”
But one of Johnson’s main critics, Tobias Ellwood, warned on Tuesday that feelings against him were so high — with 148 MPs voting against the prime minister — that he had only months to turn it around. Under current party rules, Johnson should be exempt from a challenge for a year, but the rules are subject to change by the backbench executive of the 1922 committee.
He told Sky News: “There is still a lot of work to be done: a reshuffle is needed now – bring in new talent and really start to focus on the big issues.
“Let’s do things that appeal to the country and not just our grassroots – more exciting policies than the privatization of Channel 4 and the backing of imperial measures, but a genuine economic strategy that will actually help tackle the cost of living crisis. “
When asked how long he thinks Johnson will remain prime minister, he added: “I think we’re talking in a matter of months, until the party conference. [at the beginning of October]†
Raab has said conservatives should “draw a line in the sand” after Monday’s confidence vote. “It was clearly and decisively won. We are moving forward to deliver for the people of the country and that is how we do the right thing by our constituents.”
When asked if he could count on rebellious colleagues to support the policy, Raab added: “There is a tremendous amount, if you look at our policy agenda, that binds us together.”
The deputy prime minister said potential losses to the Conservative party in two by-elections in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, were no indication of the party’s fate.
Speaking to LBC, he said: “By-elections are often an opportunity for a protest vote in a way that a general election is not. Today’s governments often lose by-elections only to win them in general elections. But we will do everything we can to win both seats and support both great candidates.”
Former Tory leader William Hague said Johnson should “turn his mind to leaving” to give the party a fresh start. “While Johnson survived the night, the damage to his premiership is serious,” he wrote in the Times.
“Words have been said that cannot be withdrawn, reports published that cannot be erased, and votes have been cast that show a greater degree of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived. Deep down, he should recognize that, and focus on going out in a way that spares party and country such pain and uncertainty.”