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Boris Johnson vote of no confidence: Secret ballot in Westminster has closed

The Prime Minister is waiting for the results of a vote of no confidence in his position – and if KentOnline readers had their way, he would be ousted.

Our poll asked how you would want your MP to vote and two-thirds – at the time of writing, more than 2,100 people – said they would not want their parliamentary represent to back Boris Johnson.

The majority of Kent MPs have remained tight-lipped about how they feel about Boris Johnson, who has been widely criticised in the wake of the 'partygate' scandal.

The votes are currently being counted following the secret ballot and the results are due at 9pm.

The Prime Minister issued a late plea to Tory MPs to support him, warning that “pointless” internal warfare could see them turfed out of office.

While it would be a major shock if the Tory critics managed to secure the 180 votes required to oust the party leader, his authority would be severely damaged if a significant number of his own MPs have lost confidence in him.

The Prime Minister promised future tax cuts and highlighted his own record of electoral success as he sought to win over wavering MPs.

Just one of the county's MPs has publicly declared he wants the PM to be replaced.

But with concern over the partygate scandal, economic policy, drifting opinion polls and Mr Johnson’s style of leadership, the Prime Minister faced a difficult task to persuade his doubters.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says he would vote for a leadership contest and said in an interview that the party had several would-be successors.

"There is a list of people who are likely to run," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Any single one of those would in my opinion make a better Prime Minister than the one we have got at the moment. And we are spoilt for choice. There are some very safe pairs of hands but I won't name names."

He said there could be a leadership contest during the summer recess with a new leader in place by the time of the party conference.

"That is what I hope and expect," he added.

But he acknowledged the possibility that the PM, under present rules, could be safe for a further year if he survived a vote.

He said he would not back Mr Johnson in a general election because he was not the right man for the job.

He added that while other previous leaders had resigned honourably, he did not expect Mr Johnson to do the same.

Pictures released by ITV news showed Boris Johnson at a leaving party in November 2020
Pictures released by ITV news showed Boris Johnson at a leaving party in November 2020

By today (Monday), it was known that almost 30 Tory MPs had publicly urged the PM to resign amid the fallout from revelations about Downing Street parties held during lockdown.

But this morning reports suggested more MPs privately want him to go and that enough letters demanding a confidence vote had been submitted.

Under Conservative Party rules, if 54 letters from MPs are sent to Sir Graham Brady – the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories – asking for a leadership poll then a vote is called.

At least 50% of Tory MPs must vote “no confidence” for the Prime Minister to lose.

While Sir Roger has made his opposition clear, Kent Tory MPs Helen Whately, Gareth Johnson, Natalie Elphicke and Damian Collins all indicated they would be supporting the PM.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says it's time for Boris Johnson to go
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says it's time for Boris Johnson to go

Reham Chishti confirmed he had supported Boris Johnson in a tweet this evening.

As well as facing trouble on his backbenches, Mr Johnson also faced public backlash during the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

He and wife Carrie were booed on Friday as they arrived at a thanksgiving service for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Regardless of the vote, the PM's leadership was already due to come under huge scrutiny this month, with by-elections in both Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton, the latter caused by the resignation of Conservative Neil Parish who admitted watching porn in the House of Commons.

Voters in the two constituencies will go to the polls on June 23.

Analysis from political editor Paul Francis

So, can we expect the removal lorry be parked up outside Downing Street or will Boris see off his critics and prevent a political gazumping?

While we won’t know the outcome until this evening, what we do know is that many Conservative MPs have their doubts that Boris is the electoral asset he was and now consider him a liability.

The simmering discontent over partygate has not been fully resolved and if there is one thing that voters dislike, it is politicians who say one thing and do another.

It is even more damaging when politicians break the very laws they are asking others to comply with regardless of whether by accident or design.

While the PM has not exactly come out smelling of roses over partygate, we can expect his cabinet colleagues to say that now is not the time to switch horses mid-race because it would be destabilising, disruptive and damaging.

On the other hand, his critics will say that his leadership will be dogged by claims that he misled not just MPs but voters and that will taint his reputation and increase mistrust of politicians.

What matters most in today’s ballot is the numbers - if the scale of any rebellion does not meet the threshold for a leadership contest but is nonetheless significant, the party will face a dilemma.

The rules say that no further challenges can be made for a year and who knows what else may be uncovered that could damage the leader.

The stakes are about as high as they could be. The question is will MPs stick or twist?

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