Pork Pie Putsch: How Some Tories are Plotting to Overthrow Boris Johnson

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference to update the nation on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the Downing Street briefing room in central London on January 4, 2022. - British hospitals have switched to a "war footing" due to staff shortages caused by …
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a severe threat to his leadership, as a number of Conservative MPs have begun plotting his ouster, it is claimed.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership is under threat, as a number of MPs from the premier’s Conservative Party plot an overthrow.

Ever since news of a number of allegedly lockdown breaking gatherings emerged in the press, Johnson has since been — increasingly desperately — working to recover his party’s popularity as well as his own, deploying so-called “Operation Red Meat” policies to win back wavering voters.

However, another food-based term has entered British politics in recent days —  the “Pork Pie Putsch”.

The term was coined after a number of Conservative MPs met to discuss the PM’s future on Tuesday, with The Telegraph describing the etymology of the term as being based on the meeting’s host, Alicia Kearns, being the MP of a region associated with pork pies.

Those who gathered at the meeting have reportedly told the publication that they had discussed writing letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister, with 54 letters in total from the body of 360 Tory members in Parliament being required to spark a confidence vote.

The system of calling leadership challenges in the Conservative party works on a system of letters being handed to the chairman of the parliamentary group’s ‘backbench’ leader, who then deposits them in a safe. Unless they choose to reveal themselves, the identities of the letter writers and the number of letters waiting are known to the chairman only until the threshold number is reached and a vote triggered.

Given the inherent mystery, estimates and claims of the number of letters now in varies wildly. According to Conservative Party Whips, the number of no-confidence letters already submitted are in the 20s, however, others have put the estimate as being much higher.

Andrew Bridgen MP told GB News that he believed around 34 letters have already been submitted and that the 54 letter threshold will be met on Wednesday.

“It’s going to happen,” Bridgen said. “I think this will push over the 54 required to trigger a confidence motion vote.”

Another Tory MP — unnamed by the paper — told The Telegraph that he also believed the 54 letter threshold could be met as early as Wednesday.

A further MP reportedly even went so far as to say that Johnson had already accepted the fact that a no-confidence vote will happen, with the parliamentarian’s description of events seeming to reveal that the current premier doesn’t favour his prospects.

“Boris broke down in tears in front of several of us yesterday,” Mail on Sunday journalist Dan Hodges reports the anonymous MP as claiming. “He kept saying sorry. He knows he’s finished.”

Despite this report, however, a no-confidence vote would not necessarily mean the end of the PM’s premiership.

Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, survived such a vote back in 2018 as well as a no-confidence vote from the leader of the opposition as well, the vast majority of Conservative MPs supporting her continued leadership in both cases, despite enough no-confidence letters having initially been sent to trigger the vote.

Despite the outsize impact of Boris Johnson’s apparent lockdown rule-breaking, his position does appear relatively stable in comparison to May, who led a minority government that couldn’t win votes in Parliament and which was characterised by constant in-fighting

While Boris Johnson has suffered a significant loss of face over the so-called “partygate” scandal — with his party’s polling having dropped 10 points behind Labour since the controversy began — it remains the case that he leads a commanding majority in Parliament and has a proven track record in winning elections. His recently tactic of promising identifiably conservative policies to voters — his “Operation Red Meat” — may yet prove fruitful, too.

The British government has unloaded a suite of popular policies seemingly in the hopes of enticing both voters and MPs alike, including deploying the Royal Navy to secure the English Channel, as well as announcing the eventual scrapping of the controversial BBC tax.

Johnson is also expected to announce the substantial easing of Plan-B restrictions on Wednesday, with the Prime Minister’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid saying he was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of easing measures by sometime next week.

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