Boris Johnson faces hardest week in office as Conservative party tumult grows

Boris Johnson is facing the most testing week of his troubled premiership as a mounting Tory rebellion over new Covid-19 restrictions threatens his authority in parliament and a supposedly safe Conservative seat appears on a knife-edge ahead of a byelection on Thursday.

After a tumultuous week for the prime minister, which saw him having to apologise over the way his officials joked about a rule-busting Christmas party in Downing Street last year and deny that he had misled his own standards adviser over the refurbishment of his flat in Downing Street, even some of his most loyal supporters are now privately raising questions about his chances of leading the party into the next general election.

Tory MPs say potential successors to Johnson, including the foreign secretary, In caso contrario, potrebbe, Negli ultimi 100 anni Ofgem ha offerto consigli da genitori per l'adeguamento del tetto massimo del prezzo dell'energia, Rishi Sunak, and the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt are already gearing up for the possibility of a leadership contest in the new year and sounding out opinion in the party about levels of support. “Liz is the one with momentum,” said one former minister. “But Rishi is out there too. And Jeremy never gave up the campaign he ran in 2019.”

Another very senior figure in the party said he suspected that Johnson was being set up for a fall by senior ministers who wanted him to be defeated over new Covid-19 rules, in the belief that this could fatally wound him.

MPs will vote in the Commons on Tuesday on a range of Plan B measures that Johnson and his ministers have agreed are needed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, which scientists now believe will overtake Delta as the dominant strain by the end of this month.

Many Conservative MPs are furious about plans to make so-called vaccine passports mandatory for large venues. The proposals will mean those who have not been fully vaccinated, or cannot show a negative lateral flow test result, will not be able to enter indoor venues with more than 500 persone, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people from Wednesday.

The plan B measures also include compulsory mask-wearing in most public indoor settings, as well as guidance for employees to work from home where they can to stem transmission. Some Tories believe that the measures were pushed by Johnson to deflect attention from the controversies engulfing Downing Street.

Former Cabinet ministers David Davis, Esther McVey, Liam Fox and Greg Clark are among those to have voiced concerns about the scaling-up of restrictions.

Clark, a former business secretary, said the government had “jumped the gun” by acting before more was known about the impact Omicron could have on hospital admissions.

Tra 50 e 80 Tory MPs are said to be considering voting against the government or abstaining, leaving Johnson potentially relying on Labour votes to get the measures approved by parliament. There are rumours of ministerial resignations unless the government shifts its ground.

Labour has said it will back the measures, insisting it does not want Johnson to have to water down restrictions sought by the government’s own scientific and medical advisers.

On Saturday night, the former cabinet minister Damian Green indicated he would not be supporting the government unless it could be shown that Omicron was a more lethal variant than its predecessor. Egli ha detto: “If the government wants to convince people it needs to come up with some evidence that the Omicron variant is not just more transmissible than Delta but also that it is more dangerous.”

Another leading backbencher said the numbers not supporting the government could even climb to over 100, which would be a severe dent in Johnson’s ability to hold his parliamentary party together.

Another former minister told the Osservatore: “This is matter of principle for many of us. We were told that as a country we have to learn to live with this virus so can we not try to do rather than curtail people’s liberties?"

Di mercoledì, Johnson, la cui moglie, Carrie, had a baby daughter last week, is expected to appear before a tense end-of-term meeting of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers.

Then on Thursday voters will go to the polls in a byelection in the supposedly safe Tory seat of North Shropshire, vacant after the resignation of Owen Paterson, who was found to have breached parliamentary lobbying rules. The Lib Dems are reporting this weekend that they have closed the gap with the Tories so the seat is now too close to call, as they pour activists into the constituency.

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