Vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson could be announced 'as soon as Monday' as MP letters pile up

Most Tory MPs agree the prime minister is on shaky ground. Credit: PA

Words by ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton

The Jubilee bank holiday weekend was supposed to offer something of a reprieve for an under-pressure Boris Johnson.

But after being booed by part of the royal-loving crowd outside St Paul’s on Friday, and after a shock poll showed the Conservatives facing a bruising defeat in an upcoming by-election, the prime minister heads into this week in an uncomfortable position.

Almost every day last week Tory MPs declared they’d submitted letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson.

So much so that some Conservative MPs believe the magic number of 54 letters - the number needed to trigger a vote of no confidence - has already been reached and will be announced later on Monday.

Others believe that some disgruntled MPs have been holding back their letters, but with the Jubilee now out the way they will be ready to press send.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 backbench committee of Conservative MPs, is the man whose job it is to count the letters. All eyes in Westminster will be on him this week.

The Tory rebels face a few problems. The biggest is that there is no clear challenger to Boris Johnson.

Jeremy Hunt, Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are among the names touted to be the next party leader.

But Conservative MPs don’t appear convinced any of them could be an electoral success. This has stopped some MPs from pulling the trigger on the prime minister.

Why kick Boris Johnson out when the alternative might not fare any better?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among those touted to take the PM's spot. Credit: PA

Another problem for the rebels is that they are disorganised and disparate. Geographically and ideologically they come from different sections of the party. Without much coordination, their campaign to defeat the prime minister is weaker.

But the campaign to keep Boris Johnson in power - once dubbed ‘operation save big dog’ - lacks the energy it once had.

A Tory source said a poll in the Sunday Times, suggesting the Conservatives are heading for a 20-point defeat to Labour in the upcoming Wakefield by-election, had “rattled” some MPs.

One MP told ITV News he knew of colleagues in government who hadn’t submitted letters of no confidence, but would choose to remove the prime minister if a vote of no confidence took place.

Few Tory MPs can confidently predict how the next few weeks will play out. But most agree the prime minister is on shaky ground.

And even if he survives a vote of no confidence, the pressure on him will likely remain for the foreseeable future.