Boris Johnson made another blunder yesterday when he was spotted wearing his No10 face mask upside-down, showing ’01’ instead.
The Prime Minister was snapped with the mask-mishap as he left Downing Street ahead of Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, which would prove to be one of his more bruising experiences at the dispatch box.
An unaware Mr Johnson waved to the press as he walked to his private car that would take him to the Houses of Parliament, with eagle-eyed photographers capturing the upside-down logo on his No10-branded black mask.
Boris Johnson made another blunder yesterday when he was spotted wearing his No10 face mask upside-down, showing ’01’ instead (pictured) on his way to Prime Minister’s Questions
The pictures came in the middle of a torrid day for the Prime Minister, whose job looked more precarious than at any other point since he took the helm in 2019.
On Wednesday, former Brexit secretary David Davis called for the Prime Minister’s resignation, a matter of minutes after a Conservative MP defected to Labour over allegations of rule-breaking parties in Downing Street.
Many MPs are keen to wait for the results of the ‘Partygate’ probe being carried out by top civil servant Sue Gray – which is not expected until next week – but more are reportedly preparing to call for Johnson’s resignation after the report’s publication.
In the Commons, Mr Johnson apologised again for the partygate saga which threatens to be the death knell for his time as Prime Minister.
Trying to sweep away the blunders over Partygate, Mr Johnson said: ‘This government has got the big things right.’
Former Brexit secretary David Davis called for the Prime Minister’s resignation in a Commons intervention on Wednesday before later warning the party faces ‘dying a death of 1,000 cuts’ if they do not act swiftly to oust him.
Minutes before Prime Minister’s Questions, Bury South MP Christian Wakeford dramatically switched sides, refusing to ‘defend the indefensible’ over alleged breaches of Covid rules.
But Mr Johnson was said to have been handed a fragile reprieve by some colleagues considering forcing a no confidence vote until they hear the result of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into events in No 10 during restrictions.
He had been holding talks with backbench MPs to shore up support and prevent the 54 letters being sent to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservatives, that are required to trigger a vote of no confidence.
Mr Johnson – seemingly unaware of his mask mishap – waved to the press as he walked to his private car that would take him to the Houses of Parliament, with eagle-eyed photographers capturing the upside-down No10 logo on his mask
How could Boris Johnson be ousted by Tory MPs?
Boris Johnson is under huge pressure over Partygate, with speculation that he might even opt to walk away.
But barring resignation, the Tories have rules on how to oust and replace the leader.
What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader?
Tory Party rules allow the MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.
How is that triggered?
A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
A vote of no confidence must be held if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to the chairman. Currently that threshold is 54 MPs.
Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public. This means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are.
What happens when the threshold is reached?
A secret ballot is held, with the leader technically only needing to win support from a simple majority of MPs
But in reality, a solid victory is essential for them to stay in post.
What happens if the leader loses?
The leader is sacked if they do not win a majority of votes from MPs, and a leadership contest begins in which they cannot stand.
However, when the party is in power the outgoing leader typically stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected.
There is no requirement for a general election to be held, unless the new PM wants to call one.
With Mr Wakeford facing anger from former colleagues on the Tory benches, some suspected he had temporarily galvanised support for Mr Johnson ahead of Ms Gray’s report, which is now expected next week.
No 10 said Mr Johnson will fight any no-confidence vote launched against him and insisted he expects to fight the next general election.
The Prime Minister went into the Commons with his premiership on life support, as a group of Tories who won their seats in the 2019 election landslide appeared to have lost faith in their boss.
The anger from a former minister first elected in 1987 and Mr Wakeford, elected to the so-called Red Wall seat of Bury South two years ago, showed the breadth of the fury in the party.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Davis said: ‘The party is going to have to make a decision or we face dying a death of 1,000 cuts.’
The Prime Minister will appear to be ‘shifting the blame’ if he fires staff after Ms Gray delivers her inquiry into events held at No 10 during Covid restrictions, the Haltemprice and Howden MP said.
Then there will be the ‘crises’ of rising energy bills and the National Insurance hike being compounded by the ‘disorganisation’ at No 10, which could trigger a vote of no confidence at Christmas, meaning a ‘year of agony’, he continued.
‘That’s the worst outcome, particularly for the 2019 and 2017 and 2015 intake – that, slice by slice by slice, this carries on and we bump along at minus whatever and, even worse, we create policies to try to paper over it.’
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg sought to downplay Mr Davis’s intervention, describing the former minister as having ‘always been something of a lone wolf’.
‘No-one would call David a lightweight, he’s a very serious political figure, but his comments today were too theatrical,’ he added.
Mr Wakeford, who was elected in 2019 with a majority of just 402 votes, accused Mr Johnson of being ‘incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves’ as he switched sides.
Boris Johnson (left) was today told to quit over Partygate by senior Tory David Davis at a brutal PMQs today just minutes after an MP dramatically defected to Labour
Mr Wakeford was on the Labour benches for PMQS today wearing a union flag face mask
David Davis warned the Tory Party is ‘dying a death of 1,000 cuts’ and faces a ‘year of agony’ if it does not act swiftly to oust Boris Johnson over allegations of rule-breaking parties in Downing Street
A poll today found that the Tories are 11 points behind Labour in crucial Red Wall seats – a dramatic turnaround from the nine-point advantage they had at the 2019 election
Who is Christian Wakeford, the Tory MP who has just defected to the Labour Party?
Christian Wakeford was elected as the Conservative MP for Bury South for the first time in 2019 – one of the Red Wall victories which propelled Boris Johnson to his massive election win.
But the married 37-year-old has now switched to Labour, inflicting a massive blow to Mr Johnson’s ailing premiership.
Mr Wakeford hit the headlines in November 2021 after it emerged he called Owen Paterson a ‘c***’ to his face after the latter was found to have broken lobbying rules.
Mr Wakeford narrowly snatched the Bury South seat from Labour in 2019, winning with a majority of just 402 votes.
Labour had held the seat since 1997.
Before entering politics, Mr Wakeford worked for a telecommunications firm having studied politics at Lancaster University.
He served as a Tory councillor on Lancashire County Council and also previously worked as a case worker for Tory MP Andrew Stephenson.
He served as the leader of the Tories on Pendle Borough Council.
In Parliament, Mr Wakeford is a member of the Education Select Committee.
He is also the co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews.
Following a joint media appearance with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Wakeford said the Tories are ‘a party trying to defend the indefensible’ as he explained his defection.
A Labour spokesman said the party had been in talks with Mr Wakeford for ‘some time’ and would welcome an election, after Mr Johnson said the Tories would win back Bury South.
He declined to say whether there are more Conservative MPs considering defecting, while the Prime Minister’s press secretary said she was not aware of any.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested there should now be a by-election in the constituency, telling ITV’s Peston Mr Wakeford ‘should front up to his constituents’.
In the Commons, Mr Johnson apologised again for the partygate saga, which threatens to be the death knell for his time as Prime Minister.
But he said it was for Ms Gray’s inquiry ‘to come forward with an explanation of what happened’, while facing particular scrutiny over the ‘bring your own booze’ party in the No 10 garden on May 20 2020 that he has admitted attending despite the lockdown.
The PM has insisted ‘nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules’ and he believed he was attending a work event.
But former aide Dominic Cummings alleged Mr Johnson was aware of the event in advance and was warned it broke the rules in place at the time.
The May 20 event is one of many subject to Ms Gray’s inquiry, and Tory MPs were urged by ministers to wait for her report before deciding whether to move against the Prime Minister.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told a Downing Street press conference he ‘fully supports the Prime Minister’ as awaits the Gray report.
Mr Javid, who ran against Mr Johnson for the leadership in 2019, did not rule out another bid in future, saying: ‘We have a leader. We have a Prime Minister.’
During a chaotic session PMQs, Mr Davis said he had spent weeks defending Mr Johnson from angry constituents, including by reminding them of the ‘successes of Brexit’.
‘I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take,’ Mr Davis said.
‘Yesterday, he did the opposite of that so I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear – Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain: You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.’
Seven Tory MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson to go, far short of the 54 required to submit letters of no confidence to the backbench 1922 Committee.
The number would have been eight but Mr Wakeford’s defection means the tally is unchanged.