Boris Johnson’s refusal to quit as prime minister is gold for Labour

Labour can only profit from the chaos that is gripping the Tory party. Credit: PA

There is now a full scale constitutional crisis. The government cannot function because too many ministers have resigned, but the prime minister is refusing to acknowledge that his continuation in office is the cause.He won’t resign.The spectacle of the Tory party at war with the PM - of the party’s leader wilfully refusing to accept he serves only at their pleasure - is doing untold damage to its reputation.This spectacle is pure gold to Labour.But the PM is insisting he has a personal mandate from the British people.This is constitutional claptrap. If it wasn’t such a cliché, I might say there are shades of Donald Trump here.The UK is a party-based parliamentary democracy, not a presidential one.The Conservatives won a mandate, not him - however much of a contribution he made to that victory.He is also trampling on the UK’s unwritten constitution in a second sense.As Julian Smith, former Tory chief whip, said on Peston last night, when a combination of Cabinet ministers, the chief whip and Sir Graham Brady - the de facto shop steward of Tory MPs - explain to a prime minister he no longer has the confidence of his MPs, most PMs would step down.Not with alacrity. But they would go - as Theresa May did in 2019, after Johnson (among others) toiled ceaselessly to get her out.But Johnson does not give a fig, seemingly, for the precedents. He has been hunkering down in Number 10.Among Tory MPs, the desperate fear is he will try to save himself by persuading Her Majesty to dissolve parliament and let him go to the country.He was pressed on this repeatedly on Wednesday by Sir Bernard Jenkin and William Wragg on the liaison committee - and he refused to categorically rule out attempting to hold a general election.But again the constitutional precedents are against him. The Queen will not permit a general election if there is a party with a majority in parliament that is capable of being led.The Tory party is that party. And it can and will again be led. Just not by Boris Johnson.His time is up.

How long can Boris Johnson hold on amid a wave of resignations? And - if he does go - who's primed to replace him?

In an emergency podcast outside 10 Downing Street, find out you what you need to know...