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How Boris Johnson could end up being 'held hostage' in No.10

Credit: PA Images

His own brother has quit his government, he's lost every vote held since becoming Prime Minister and now faces a choice between office without power or quitting just six weeks into the job.

Has any Prime Minister faced such a dramatic and tense start to their time at the top as Boris Johnson?

There's little sympathy for him: many say he only has himself to blame and those critics are inside his own party as well as in the opposition.

The internal critics say that his many contradictory and misleading statements over the years have lost him trust and goodwill. And the actions of those around him have alienated others who might have given him the benefit of the doubt. People are sacked on whims of those close to him, they say, while others are ordered to do as they're told or find new jobs.

Meanwhile cabinet ministers, criticised themselves for their apparent silence, are, I'm told, passing on information helpful to their political opponents.

This is hearsay but the fact that so many are volunteering such information speaks volumes. And it's hardly less damaging than what people accuse him of in public.

Even supporters are withering when asked if there's any kind of 'strategy' behind what's happening. It's cock-up not conspiracy, I've been repeatedly told.

For instance some suggested that the surprise passing of Stephen Kinnock's amendment on Wednesday night was part of a clever ruse to stop Labour voting for the bill. Not true, I'm told. It was just that government whips failed to realise Labour's voting plan had changed and didn't appoint tellers to count the 'no' votes.

Credit: PA Images

When he was elected Conservative leader in July, some of those Tories who reluctantly backed him hoped that the 'Boris magic' seen at work so often in the past would come into play and resolve the Brexit crisis. That magic hasn't appeared yet.

Perhaps the only ray of hope for Boris Johnson at the moment lies in the fact that the opposition is also divided despite repeated attempts to act in unison.

Take what happened today. On Wednesday, opposition parties gained a spectacular victory, seizing control of parliamentary business from the government and using that control to pass a bill making a no-deal scenario as difficult as possible.

But they struggled to act in concert when Boris Johnson asked for their support in triggering a General Election.

Many Labour MPs see it as a trap and seem to have succeeded in persuading Jeremy Corbyn not to accept, even though he's been calling for an election for two years.

Amongst those Labour MPs the feeling is very clear: do nothing to help Boris Johnson and let his position become as difficult as possible.

Plaid Cymru has ruled out backing an election before 31 October in order to ensure no-deal doesn't happen. But some of their fellow nationalists in the SNP are more gung-ho about an election.

All of which makes it very unclear what will happen in the coming days.

Some things are clear-ish. Now that Conservative Lords have agreed not to scupper the anti-no deal bill, the legislation is expected to return to the Commons on Monday.

It is predicted the Government will make another attempt to trigger an election with a bill that require a simple majority Credit: PA Images

Labour whips predict that the Government will make another attempt to trigger a general election with a bill that only needs a simple majority rather than the two thirds majority needed for Wednesday's bill. But that sort of bill can be amended and opposition parties will amend it.

A no-confidence vote remains possible. If it succeeds there would be a 14 day period when other parties try to form a government. Labour whips believe that period includes non-sitting days so can take place despite parliament being suspended.

Another Tory MP predicts the outcome will see Boris Johnson 'held hostage' in No.10, unable to do what he's pledged to do and unable to trigger a General Election.

And that's why, remarkable as it may seem, it's now being said that at the end of all this and not even two months into the job, the only option available to Boris Johnson could be to resign.