A "Red Wall" Conservative MP has issued a strident defence of Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister seeks to shore up his position amid a raft of ministerial resignations.
Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith – one of the Conservatives who took seats in traditional Labour strongholds when Mr Johnson secured a landslide general election win in 2019 – has been a vocal supporter of the prime minister.
And he reiterated his backing following the resignations of the former chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday, 5 July.
In a swipe at those who have turned their back on Mr Johnson, Mr Clarke-Smith tweeted that sometimes people needed to hear things that they did not want to. He added: "Occasionally it also means telling certain people they can b****cks."
A colloquialism meaning to "get lost", Mr Clarke-Smith's "can b****cks" was a direct attack at those who have withdrawn their support of the prime minister.
Former teacher Mr Clarke-Smith had already expressed his support for Mr Johnson hours after the resignations of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid. He posted a photograph of the two of them together, with the words "Getting on with the job #BackBoris".
Despite 18 walkouts, Mr Johnson told MPs at PMQs that he is determined to remain prime minister.
Asked by a Tory MP whether there was any circumstance in which he would quit, the PM said: "The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that's what I'm going to do."
What could happen next?
The eyes of parliament are firmly fixed on other key members of Boris Johnson's cabinet, wondering whether they will vote with their feet.
After he survived a confidence vote in June, the current rules mean another cannot be held until June 2023.
Backbench Tories who form a group called the 1922 Committee are likely to hold elections next Wednesday. Should enough who support it join the committee, they hold the power to change government rules and ensure another confidence vote in the prime minister be held by Conservative MPs.
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