James Forsyth

What will the anti-Boris rebels do now?

What will the anti-Boris rebels do now?
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Looking at these Tory losses, it is hard not to conclude that the rebels would have got the 180 votes they needed to oust Boris Johnson if they had been organised enough to wait until after the by-elections before going for a vote of no confidence. But having had a vote two weeks ago, it is not credible to suggest changing the rules immediately to allow another one.

However, judging from the conversations I have had with Tory MPs this morning, more of them would now like the option of having another vote sooner than a year from now. Some talk about the autumn, others about March. In a way, Oliver Dowden’s resignation is so devastating because no one thinks that it was tactical campaigning errors by Conservative Campaign Headquarters that led to these defeats. You can’t look at a swing of close to 30 per cent in Tiverton, the kind of place you would describe as the quintessence of Tory England, and say that better canvassing might have made the difference. It is clear that, as even those loyal to him concede, Boris Johnson is motivating the anti-Tory vote more than the Tory one right now.

The new executive of the 1922 Committee will be elected before parliament goes down for the summer and while I doubt that people will campaign on an explicit platform of changing the rules, I suspect that MPs will be inclined to vote for those they think are more likely to agree to do that. The upshot of this will be a committee on which there will probably be a majority for changing the rules if the circumstances require it.