It is crunch time in Westminster. Boris Johnson will face a confidence vote tonight after Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, announced that the “threshold of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party [54 letters] has been exceeded”.
The secret ballot – the first since Theresa May was leader in 2018 – will be held on Monday evening between 6pm and 8pm, with the result announced “immediately afterwards”. If a majority of Tory MPs – 180 – vote “no” in Johnson, then a leadership contest will be triggered. Johnson would be barred from standing.
Former Treasury minister Jesse Norman penned an evicerating letter withdrawing his support from the PM, and citing the party “lacking a sense of mission”.
Although the current party rules state that if the PM wins the vote he is protected from another contest for 12 months, Sir Graham has said these rules can be changed.
The fact a vote has been called at all is damaging, and the margin of any victory will help gauge how precarious the PM’s position is.
There is speculation that several high-profile ministers could resign as part of an attempt to further undermine confidence in Johnson. More to follow.