The issues and the odds

“All the danger points Boris Johnson faces this week, from Sue Gray report to Nusrat Ghani Islamophobia probe. The PM is facing a number of serious issues this week, as he attempts to cling onto the top job by Emily Ferguson i News January 24, 2022 4:00 pm (Updated 4:04 pm)

Boris Johnson is facing the most tumultuous week of his premiership, as a number of issues threaten to bring his time in No 10 to an early close.

The Prime Minister is awaiting the outcome of Sue Gray’s inquiry into allegations parties were held in Downing Street in breach of Covid lockdown rules, which is due early this week.

Mr Johnson’s leadership has also come under pressure after the Tory MP Nusrat Ghani alleged that she was sacked due to concerns about her “Muslimness” and claims made by William Wragg that Tory whips had blackmailed MPs to ensure they continued to support the PM.

The threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine also risks overwhelming Mr Johnson this week, as he faces calls to intervene to help Britons living there.

Here i takes a look at all the danger points Mr Johnson faces this week, giving each a rating out of 5 to indicate its potential volatility.

Sue Gray report: 4/5

The senior civil servant’s report into potentially lockdown-breaking parties at No 10 could sound the ultimate death knell for Mr Johnson.

Ms Gray could end up finding the PM lied to Parliament over claims he only attended one lockdown gathering and had no prior knowledge that the ‘bring your own booze’ event was planned in advance.

The mandarin could even state that Mr Johnson broke the law by attending the No 10 gathering in May 2020 – something the PM has already admitted.

Both of these scenarios would leave him in breach of the Ministerial Code and though Ms Gray is unlikely to directly state it, it would require Mr Johnson to resign.

This was confirmed by Sajid Javid, the Health Minister, last week, who made it clear that if the PM was found to have broken the law he would have to go.

“The Ministerial Code is very clear. If any minister from the Prime Minister down breaks the law, of course they shouldn’t continue to serve as a minister,” he told Sky News.

“What I have just said is a general rule that applies to everyone. There is no exception to that rule.”

Even if the report does not directly say that the PM broke the Ministerial Code, if it is even slightly damaging Tory MPs are expected to round on Mr Johnson in their droves.

Letters of no confidence: 5/5

Swathes of Tories are said to be holding back on submitting letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, until the outcome of the Gray report.

A damning outcome is set to provoke a rebellion among Tory MPs and the threshold to trigger a no confidence vote, 54 letters, is expected to be reached.

It will then be up to MPs to decide if Mr Johnson has their support in a potentially premiership-ending vote.

The PM will need to win the backing of 181 Tories (half of his MPs plus one) to survive the vote and prevent another challenge for another year.

But if he loses, a leadership contest would be called and he would be barred from entering.

Mr Johnson has so far expressed assurance that he would win a no confidence vote, but discontent is said to have been brewing for months and the party allegations may well be the final straw for many Tories.

MPs are said to be unhappy with the PM’s over-cautious approach to Covid, his manifesto-busting tax rises and the distance between the No 10 operation and the party’s grassroots.

A no confidence vote could be the perfect time for MPs to finally voice their disapproval with the direction Mr Johnson has taken the party in.

Change to vote of no confidence rules: 2/5

Under the current rules, Mr Johnson would be immune to a second confidence vote for another year.

However, the Tories are considering a rule change to halve the waiting period.

This would mean that if Mr Johnson successfully fought off a leadership challenge, he would only be safe for six months.

A second ballot would only go ahead if a higher threshold were met, however, according to the proposals on the table.

At the moment 15 per cent of Tories have to write letters of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee for a vote to be triggered.

Under the proposals being considered by the committee a second vote could only be called if a third of Tory MPs submitted letters.

This would increase the threshold from 54 to 120 MPs.

If the rule change is announced this week, it would not prove to be an immediate threat to Mr Johnson.

But it could prove problematic in the future because if he defeated a no confidence motion his safe period would be depleted significantly.

However, a threshold of 120 may prove tricky to reach.”

If there is anyone who can beat the odds it’s Boris, last evening we’re told that Sue Gray’s report may be given to Boris within hours, the police are also investigating the ‘parties.’ I imagine that Boris will want to diminish all accusations by spreading investigation and drowning them in paperwork hoping that the population will lose interest and that Russia will invade!

Boris’ playbook for getting away with lying, cheating, and blundering his way through British politics is based on the elections strategy of Australian election guru and Boris supporter Lynton Crosby.

“The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as “throwing a dead cat on the table, mate”.

That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted.

That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table! In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

You may wonder what that the link here is with bullying in the workplace: all abusive workplace behaviours thrive in cultures that lack a moral compass. #voteofnoconfidence #whipsbully #downingstreetparties #bullying #bullyingawareness #bullyingprevention

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