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Boris Johnson denies MPs are ‘plotting’ to remove him as PM

The Daily Express has learnt that the MPs and candidates for the Tories’ top 100 seats known as the 80/20 club have been told to get their election campaign plans in by July 1. The sudden push to get the party battle ready has come after the Prime Minister declined three times to rule out a September poll when grilled by journalists at the Nato conference in Spain.

Mr Johnson avoided answering whether he would rule out calling an early general election to draw a line under his internal party divisions.

Allies insist he wants to “get s**t done” rather than hold another vote while other Conservative MPs have branded an early election as “suicidal”.

But has spoken to several MPs who have indicated that they are cancelling their holidays because they believe the Prime Minister will “pull the trigger and go for an election”.

The biggest motive, according to Conservative MPs, is to avoid the humiliating prospect of him and his wife Carrie being grilled over Partygate allegations by the Standards and Privileges Committee.

One senior backbencher said: “It is the best way to draw a line under the whole affair.

“If he goes to the country and wins then he can ignore the inquiry and say he has a new mandate.

“No embarrassing evidence sessions and no pressure to resign if he is found to have lied to Parliament.”

The 80/20 club are the top 80 seats being defended and top 20 targets to win and speculation has been fueled by them being told to get their election plans in place by July 1.

Tory MPs are cancelling their holidays because they think Boris Johnson might call an election (Image: GETTY)

One MP in the 80/ 20  said: “We were first told it might be helpful to have our plans for the election in by July 1 then it was set as a hard deadline.

“There isn’t much to it though because we don’t have many resources. 

“It’s a leaflet drop and how we are going to get volunteers to help us. That sort of thing.”

Another MP said it was “the nuclear option” adding “it will take out a lot of our own side if he does it but Boris probably does not care.”

The likelihood of an early election will increase if Sir Keir Starmer is forced to resign over his own lockdown breaking allegations dubbed “beergate” where he and deputy leader Angela Rayner joined activists to eat more than £200 worth of curry washed down by beer.

A decision on whether to find him is expected from Durham Police imminently and Sir Keir has said he will resign if fined.

One Conservative MP said: “With Labour in chaos it will be a perfect time for the Prime Minister to go to the country.”

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Sir Keir Starmer

If Sir keir Starmer is forced to resign over beergate then it may make an early election more likely (Image: GETTY)

There is speculation that talk of bringing back James Cleverly as chairman could also be a sign of an early poll.

Mr Cleverly, who is currently number two in the Foreign Office behind Liz Truss, was chairman for the 2019 election and helped deliver an 80-seat majority.

One minister told “The word was that if there was not going to be an early election then the Prime Minister would have had a reshuffle.

“There has been no reshuffle so a lot of us are now expecting an early election.”

Meanwhile, as previously reported Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is also understood to be expecting an election in the autumn.


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Techne UK poll

The current tracker poll shows Labour six points ahead but both they and the Tories are down (Image: TECHNE UK)

But many Conservative MPs have rubbished the suggestion.

One said: “If he does it we will lose and he [the Prime Minister] will probably lose his Uxbridge [and South Ruislip] seat [in London].”

Another added: “Why go early before the boundary changes which will give us more of an advantage in an election?”

A third said: “It would be utter madness. I refuse to believe it. I think some colleagues need to calm down.”

Speaking reporters travelling with him in Madrid, the Prime Minister did little though to dampen speculation.

He said: “Do you know what, I’ve realised where I’ve been going wrong with all this. I’ve got to recognise that years and years ago, I used to do the kind of jobs that you all do now, and it was a great, great life and a great privilege, and what you are able to do is offer opinion, commentary, analysis, predictions about politics, about individuals and so on.

“I think I’ve got to recognise I’m no longer a member of that sacred guild. It would be a demarcation dispute for me to cross over and start talking about politics.

“I’ve got to talk about my programme for government, about policy, and what I’m doing to take the country forward.”

Harriet Harman

Harriet Harman is chairing the Standards inquiry into Boris Johnson (Image: GETTY)

Pressed on whether he was ruling it out he replied: “I’m just saying, I don’t comment on those sorts of things. What I comment on is – I certainly think that – the idea hadn’t occurred to me, if you really want the truth, because I’m focussed on getting through the cost-of-living pressures, developing and improving, widening our plan for a stronger economy, and making sure that we continue to offer leadership on some of the tough global issues the world faces.”

Asked if he was leaning towards it, he said: “Oh, for heaven’s sake! I am not offering commentary, what I’m trying to get over to you is that I’m here to comment on policy, on the agenda of the government.”

Mr Johnson is on his eighth day out of the country after travelling between three international summits in Rwanda, Germany and Spain.

Although he secured a clear majority of support in his recent leadership battle, dismal by-election results in Devon and Yorkshire led to renewed focus on his position.

The PM is said to be considering a snap poll to end the constant speculation.

But a senior source said: “The PM won an 80 seat majority, people want us to use it to get s**t done, rather than hold another vote.”