Boris Johnson rebels: What the plotters could do next? Two ways PM could still be ousted

Boris Johnson criticised by O'Neill over Northern Ireland Protocol

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A vote of confidence was called in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Conservative Party, after recent developments in the Partygate saga. The full publication of Sue Gray’s report into Government lockdown parties was heavily critical of Mr Johnson’s administration. Calls for the PM to resign have grown sharply from his own MPs in recent weeks, which ultimately led to last week’s poll taking place.

Mr Johnson won the vote of confidence with 211 ballots against the 148 MPs who went against him.

For him to have been removed as leader of the Conservative Party – and thus as PM – at least 180 MPs would have needed to remove their support.

Under current party rules a victorious Conservative leader cannot face a new vote of confidence for 12 months.

But this route of outing the PM isn’t necessarily off the table for Tory rebels.

In fact, it has emerged that these rules can actually be re-written by the leading 1922 Committee in the Conservative Party.

One of Mr Johnson’s leading critics, Tobias Ellwood, revealed last week that Tory backbenchers, who make up the committee, were looking at ways for another vote to take place within the next six months.

Support for any rule changes could grow significantly if the Tories lose badly in either of the UK by-elections taking place next week.

Polls are due to be held in the West Yorkshire city, Wakefield, and Honiton & Tiverton, in Devon, on Thursday, June 23.

Mr Johnson could also be removed from power if an inquiry finds he willingly misled MPs in the House of Commons.

The Privileges Committee is investigating the PM as to whether he lied to Parliament about Government lockdown parties.

After the inquiry was announced Mr Johnson said he had “absolutely nothing, frankly, to hide”.

It’s expected to deliver its findings this summer and, if it finds him at fault, could suspend or expel Mr Johnson from Parliament.

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In the event that Mr Johnson did step aside as PM it would result in a Tory leadership contest.

Whoever won would assume the role as leader of the party and become Prime Minister.

Thanks to Mr Johnson’s landslide victory during the 2019 general election the next public vote isn’t expected to take place until May 2024.

The favourite to replace Mr Johnson has changed hands on several occasions, since the start of 2022.

In recent days Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt has emerged as the favourite with some betting agents to win party leadership.

She’s viewed as a popular figure within the party, and was the first woman to be appointed secretary of state for defence, in 2019.

Her toughest competition appears to be ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who unsuccessfully ran for the leadership three years ago.

Before last week’s vote of confidence took place he had urged Tory MPs to vote for change, and remove Mr Johnson from power.

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