Education Secretary urges Tory MPs not to act against Boris Johnson

A cabinet minister today urged Tory MPs not to act against Boris Johnson following heavy local election losses.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi also insisted the Prime Minister remained an electoral asset for the Conservative Party.

It comes after the Conservatives lost nearly 500 seats and control of 11 councils in local elections.

Many Tory MPs viewed the vote as a referendum on Johnson’s premiership and are now debating whether or not to act against him.

In a message to fellow Tories, Zahawi told Sky News: “People don’t like to vote for split parties, for split teams.

“We are stronger when we are united, we have a Queen’s Speech next week where we will demonstrate to the nation that the second half of this parliament is about fixing the economy, recovering from Covid, the backlog of the NHS and national security – here at home, safer streets – and, of course, abroad. We have a plan for all of these things.

“We are stronger when we are united and that would be my message to all my colleagues.”

Pressed on whether Johnson was still an electoral asset for the party, Zahawi insisted: “He’s an asset, absolutely… If you look at the way Boris goes through places like Nuneaton, places like Newcastle-under-Lyme , other parts of the country as well – Harrow to London.

The results fuel speculation over Johnson’s leadership, with some MPs blaming the losses on the prime minister.

Tory MP Aaron Bell, a critic of the Prime Minister, said the issue of Johnson’s leadership needed to be “brought to the head”.

Bell, who has already submitted a letter of censure to Johnson, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘It’s not really up to me, it’s up to my colleagues and I’m sure when we return to Westminster there will be will have a discussion on that.

“What I think is that it needs to be put in place as soon as possible because I don’t think we can continue to have this problem for many months to come, with the Metropolitan Police and Sue Gray, then the Committee of Privileges.

The MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme said it was a “perfectly reasonable” position for his colleagues to await publication of senior civil servant Gray’s report into alleged anti-lockdown parties at No 10 and Whitehall.

However, he said they “have to bring this to a head, one way or another, so that we can draw a line under it.”

An MP also admitted to being a campaign manager waiting for a hopeful.

Some MPs believe any leadership challenges must take place in a “window of opportunity” soon after local election results are announced or Johnson will likely take them to the next general election.

However, it all depends on whether enough letters of censure have been submitted to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady.

A senior backbench MP is said to be on ‘full manoeuvres’ as MPs across the party say they have been approached by his staff.

Yesterday aides to No 10 were told the Prime Minister was ‘excited about the future’ after local elections, according to the Times.

David Canzini, a senior aide to the prime minister, reportedly showed staff statistics from previous midterm elections in 2000, 2004 and 2009, when the Tories performed well only to do worse in subsequent elections and told them “The sky has not fallen and we must continue.

Speaking on a visit to Ruislip, north-west London, Johnson said yesterday: “It’s halfway through. It’s certainly a mixed set of results.

“We had a rough night in some parts of the country, but on the other hand, in other parts of the country, you still see conservatives stepping forward and making some pretty remarkable gains in places that don’t. haven’t voted Conservative in a long time, if ever.”

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