Leadership challenge ‘on the cards’ after prime minister suffers biggest rebellion


Leadership challenge against PM must ‘be on the agenda’ in New Year, senior Tory official warned, after Boris Johnson suffered biggest rebellion as Commons Prime Minister .

Nearly 100 Conservative MPs defied the whip by voting against the introduction of compulsory Covid passes to access nightclubs and large venues.

The measures will continue to move forward thanks to Labor support.

But the rebellion of 97 of its own MPs, hours after the prime minister made a final appeal to the 1922 committee, will be seen as a sign of anger against No.10.

People line up for reminders at St Thomas’ Hospital in London (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 committee, said the Prime Minister must now realize that he must consult with MPs before bringing any action to the House of Commons, and some party members would think that It’s time to change.

Speaking to Sky News, he said he was “very surprised” by the scale of the rebellion, adding that it “shows a fairly significant division within the party”.

He said: “I think now the Prime Minister has to really think very carefully about how he is going to reset his performance, to truly govern with a united party, because we will know what happens to the disunited parties.”

When asked if there was now the prospect of a leadership challenge in the New Year if the Prime Minister did not change his approach, Sir Geoffrey said: ‘I think it must be on cards. He must realize that he must change.

(PA Graphics)

While Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “very significant blow to the already damaged authority of the Prime Minister” who he said was now “too weak to carry out basic functions of government “.

He stopped before explicitly calling for Mr Johnson’s resignation, but said: “The Prime Minister needs to take a hard look at himself and ask himself if he has the power to take him across this country to the pandemic.”

He added: “I think it is very important to understand how deep the breach of trust is between the Prime Minister and his own party. “

Other measures under the government’s plan B have also authorized the Commons, in particular to abandon the obligation to isolate and do instead daily Covid tests for fully vaccinated people who are in contact with a Covid case positive.

MPs also approved mandatory vaccinations for the NHS and social service staff by April 2022 and the requirement to wear face coverings in more indoor spaces in England – including museums and galleries.

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The NHS app, used to show a person’s immunization status and the Covid Pass (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)

Some 369 MPs backed the decision to introduce Covid passes – also known as vaccine passports – in large venues, giving a majority of 243.

But the division list showed 96 Conservative MPs voted against.

Two Conservative MPs also acted as scrutineers for the nays.

Eight Labor MPs, 10 Liberal Democrats, six DUPs, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and independent MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Rob Roberts also opposed the settlement, according to the list.

The measures will mean people will have to prove that they are either fully vaccinated or have had a recent negative coronavirus test before they can make their way to nightclubs and large venues.

Under the regulations, sites could be fined up to £ 10,000 for failing to verify passes, while forging a pass could also result in the same penalty.

Before Tuesday, the biggest rebellion Mr Johnson has faced took place in December 2020, against the tightening of Covid-19 level restrictions in England.

Then a total of 55 Conservative MPs voted against the government. This includes the two deputies who acted as scrutineers for the no.

The list of those who voted against included brand new Tory MP Louie French, who was elected in the Old Bexley and Sidcup byelections and has been in the House of Commons for less than two weeks.

He said: “I made a clear promise ahead of the election that I would not support Covid passes for our national economy and I voted accordingly.”

While former Tory chief whip and rebel leader Mark Harper said the government must listen to MPs’ message.

“A significant number of Conservative colleagues like this vote against the government are sending a clear message and I hope that message will be heard and implemented,” he told Sky News.

“It’s clearly not a good night for ministers or for the government. Either you listen and you respond and you do things differently, or you ignore what you have been told and go on regardless and then it will happen again and again.

“This choice belongs to the Prime Minister. I hope he will make the right choice, change the way government works. We can do it better and I really hope we will.

And even those who backed the government have suggested loyal MPs might not back Mr Johnson if he tries to impose further restrictions.

Joy Morrissey, who said she was convinced to vote with the government after it was confirmed that a negative lateral flow test could be used for the pass, said it was “this and no more” for the Conservative Party.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said Mr Johnson’s authority was “shattered”.

He told Sky News: “This is an extraordinary and extraordinary rebellion. The government has lost its majority. I think the size of this vote is a reflection of Boris Johnson’s broken authority.

“It is undermining public health at a critical time for our country. I think he must be wondering if he is the right man to lead our country through the next phase of the pandemic. “

Previously, Mr Johnson had approached the 1922 committee to try to convince them to support his plans.

And he had spoken individually to those who had publicly stated that they would oppose the measure earlier today.


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