BORIS Johnson was backed in Monday night’s confidence vote by Monmouth MP David Davies, but two neighbouring Tories came out against the PM.
While the Welsh Office Minister was one of the PM’s 211 supporters, South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, whose constituency border lies just north of Monmouth, blasted his leadership as a “charade” before the vote.
Forest of Dean MP and former chief whip Mark Harper has also long called for him to step down, taking to the airwaves on Monday to repeat those calls.
No less than 148 backbench Tory MPs voted to remove their leader on Monday, meaning that some 75 per cent of all the party’s backbenchers want the PM to go in the wake of the Partygate revelations.
Mr Davies said before the vote: “Boris Johnson was elected with a landslide majority. He has delivered Brexit, taken us through the Covid pandemic and been in the forefront of support for Ukraine.
“I will certainly be backing him.”
And in a post, he added: “My father died in June 2020 during lockdown.
“At that time, as a Minister, I saw first hand, including at COBR meetings, how determined Boris was to saving lives and getting our country through.
“His commitment was absolute and I have no hesitation in backing him today.”
That was in contrast to former Treasury minister Jesse Norman, who in a letter to the PM on Monday said the Gray report into Partygate lockdown breaches in and around Downing Street showed Mr Johnson had “presided over a culture of casual law-breaking”.
“To describe yourself as ‘vindicated’ by the report is grotesque,” he added.
Mr Norman, whose constituency includes Welsh Newton, Llangrove, Garway, Llangarron, Symonds Yat West and Ross-on-Wye, added that the PM’s current policy priorities were “deeply questionable”.
“Breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol would be economically very damaging, politically foolhardy, and almost certainly illegal,” he blasted.
“You are the leader of the Conservative and Unionist party, yet you are putting the Union itself gravely at risk.”
He described the Government’s Rwanda policy as “ugly”, and the privatisation of Channel 4 as “an unnecessary and provocative attempt to address a political non-issue during a time of crisis, at significant cost to the independent UK film and TV industry”.
He also slammed the Government’s crackdown on “noisy protest”.
And he stormed: “Under you the Government seems to lack a sense of mission. It has a large majority, but no long-term plan…
“You are simply seeking to campaign, to keep changing the subject and to create political and cultural dividing lines mainly for your advantage, at a time when the economy is struggling, inflation is soaring and growth is anaemic at best.
“Sensible planning has been replaced by empty rhetoric.”
And saying that he had handed in a letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee, he added: “For you to prolong this charade by remaining in office not only insults the electorate, and the tens of thousands of people who support, volunteer, represent, and campaign for our party; it makes a decisive change of government at the next election much more likely.
“This is potentially catastrophic for the country.”
Mark Harper was equally blunt, saying the “shameful scandal of law-breaking in No 10” meant Boris Johnson had to go if the Conservatives were to win the next election.
And posting that he would vote for the PM’s exit, he said: “I backed Boris Johnson in the last leadership election and wanted him to succeed.
“This hasn’t been reached lightly, but now I think we must change to win.
“The issues of the past few months are not ‘just about cake’ or “noises off”…
“This is about not being straight with the British people. Once people decide someone isn’t being straight with them, you can’t put things right.
“The shameful scandal of law-breaking in No 10 and not being straight about it with the British people cannot be dismissed as “the media’s favourite obsession” or “fluff”. It matters.
“This isn’t just my view… it’s what the British people think too.”