‘Can’t carry on!’ Tory rebel says Boris could face leadership challenge next year

Tory MP warns of leadership challenge if PM doesn't 'deliver'

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Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown warned Boris Johnson that he could face a leadership challenge in 2022 following many “self-inflicted” scandals and growing dissent among Conservatives. Sir Geoffrey said he ultimately did not want the Prime Minister to fail but if he does not deliver on his promises and policies after the Christmas recess then things “can’t go on”. Sir Geoffrey was one of the rebels who voted against Mr Johnson’s coronavirus rules earlier this week as the 1922 Committee said MPs could now email letters of no confidence of the Prime Minister over email during the Christmas holidays.

Earlier this week, 99 Tory rebels voted against the Government’s coronavirus restrictions making it the largest rebellion Mr Johnson has seen during his premiership.

The rebel MPs voted against Covid certification for crowded indoor venues – such as stadiums or nightclubs – but the measure was propped up by Labour support. 

Sir Geoffrey was one of the rebels and said shortly after the result that “major change” was needed in how Mr Johnson leads the Government.

Appearing on GB News to discuss the comments, Mr Geoffrey explained the potential for a Conservative leadership challenge in 2022.

He explained: “Yes, well, I think, I’ve no wish to bring the Prime Minister down and I am in the business of helping him to succeed.

“But if he wishes to succeed, we’ve had a very bad month in the Conservative Party with a lot of self-inflicted [problems], the sort of wallpaper in 10 Downing Street, the Owen Paterson affair, parties at 10 Downing Street – these are self-inflicted problems.

“We need to go away for Christmas, come back refreshed, the Prime Minister needs to clear up all these self-inflicted wounds and then start delivering to this country on the major policies…

“If you can start delivering on those really difficult subjects, and not getting involved in the sort of own goals that we’ve had, then I’m sure he will go on to succeed and we’ll all be delighted to have him as our Prime Minister.

“But if we go off having a sort of torrid time that we’ve had for the last month, then I don’t think that can carry on indefinitely.”

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Sir Geoffrey explained Mr Johnson needed to change the advisors around him at No10 and said many were not thinking strategically.

He believed many were from his days as London mayor and urged him to ignore them and instead lead the country properly.

Sir Geoffrey revealed the main reason why he rebelled against Mr Johnson on Tuesday was because of the way he handles things in the party.

He and the chair of the Covid Recovery Group, Mark Harper, agreed that the Prime Minister tries to avoid proper scrutiny by not putting things forward in the Commons to debate.

Mr Harper explained on BBC Radio 4 earlier this week that Mr Johnson should not have presented a threatening public address on Sunday to scare the public but instead present his policies on the pandemic to MPs.

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There, politicians would be able to debate through the proper channels and get their arguments heard rather than pushing through a late-minute vote.

Sir Geoffrey said: “[Boris Johnson] has got to now be in some danger and he has got to realise that because if he doesn’t raise that then he will be in much bigger danger.”

The Commons voted on new Covid rules on Tuesday with many MPs voicing their opposition to Covid certifications.

MPs also voted on mask-wearing and mandatory vaccines for NHS workers which passed with little opposition.

However, Covid certification saw huge backlash with many prominent backbenchers rallying against the measures.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said he could not back the documents because he believed it would lull people into a false sense of security.

He explained on BBC Radio 4 and ITV’s Peston that some people may flout other rules, like social distancing, when they are in venues requiring certification because they feel safe.

Mr Davis added regular testing would also be able to track superspreaders and new variants easier.

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