Boriss Christmas doom: Leadership challenge looms as rules to oust PM suddenly changed

Boris Johnson has ‘three months’ to save job says commentator

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Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the all-powerful 1922 committee, has told colleagues he will accept letters of no confidence over email during the festive period. Previously only letters physically handed to the Altrincham and Sale West MP have been permitted.

Any letter submitted digitally will be followed up with a phone call to verify it is real.

The decision comes as a huge blow to the Prime Minister and his allies who had been hoping Christmas would help calm the nerves of backbench MPs.

Mr Johnson had been hoping to use the break to reset his premiership after a disastrous couple of months for the party.

It would have meant after the House rises tomorrow he would have had three weeks before any more letters could be sent in against him.

Under Conservative party rules, a no confidence vote is triggered if 15 percent of MPs write to the chair of the 1922 committee expressing no confidence in the leader.

A total of 54 MPs would need to submit letters to meet the 15 percent threshold due to Mr Johnson’s massive Commons majority.

It is thought a flurry of no confidence letters have already been submitted by backbenchers against Mr Johnson.

The exact number remains unknown with Sir Graham Brady refusing to ever speak out on the subject.

More letters could be submitted in the coming days if the Conservatives lose today’s North Shropshire by-election.

The seat, vacated by Own Paterson when he resigned last month, is usually a Tory stronghold but a series of gaffes U-turns and accusations of lockdown breaking parties by the Government in recent weeks means the vote is now on a knife-edge.

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Tories believe there is a good chance they could lose.

Mr Johnson’s authority is already shattered after more than 100 Conservatives voted against his Covid passport plans on Tuesday night.

Despite a personal plea just hours before the vote, over a quarter refused to back the Government.

After the vote, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the 1922 committee’s treasurer, warned the Prime Minister a leadership challenge “has got to be on the cards”.

He said Mr Johnson had to get back on the front foot or face a challenge in a matter of weeks.

The veteran MP said: “He’s got to now be in some danger, and he’s got to realise that because if he doesn’t he’ll be in much bigger danger.

“If he realises he’s got it wrong, comes back in the new year and does things in a different way, consults the party more, then we’ve got a good chance of uniting.

“But if that doesn’t happen then we’re in trouble.”

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