Twelve Conservative MPs disgruntled with the candidates for the party leadership are planning to submit letters of no confidence in the new prime minister as early as this week, it has been reported.
In defiance of the widely-considered frontrunner Liz Truss, MPs are planning to submit letters to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, to signal their intentions of challenging the new prime minister, according to the Sunday Mirror.
The newspaper reports the plotting MPs want a leadership vote by Christmas to bring Boris Johnson back as leader.
Speaking with the Sunday Mirror, one MP said: “In the worst of times [Liz Truss] is the worst possible choice for PM.”
Tory MPs hatching the plan will need to obtain 54 letters of no confidence in the new prime minister in order for a leadership challenge to take place, with Sir Graham announcing it once the target had been met.
Other party MPs have responded to the plot, with one quoted by the newspaper as saying: “This is madness. The country won’t wear 160,000 Conservative members choosing another PM, especially a retread. We’ll end up with a general election.”
The plotters have suggested they hope to reach the target of 54 letters by the new year.
Ms Truss is faced with an extraordinary list of priorities, should she be successful in the leadership election.
Party MPs were split at the leadership ballot, with Ms Truss taking 113 votes compared to Rishi Sunak’s 137 and 105 for Penny Mordaunt, who put her weight behind Ms Truss’s leadership bid following her failure to reach the final ballot.
The outgoing prime minister, Mr Johnson, is widely considered to be hinting at a political comeback in future months.
At his final appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson uttered Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator catchphrase “hasta la vista” to rapturous applause from the government benches.
He also this week failed to rule out a political comeback when asked by Sky News.
One Tory MP told the Sunday Mirror: “He’s the only person who can keep the red wall together. I expect him to be PM again before we go to the polls. And if he isn’t and we lose then he’ll be leader immediately afterwards.”
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The Cabinet under Ms Truss has been speculated at by the Sunday Telegraph, with loyalists to the outgoing prime minister forming the bulk of expected ministerial positions. It comes after the Independent reported that Therese Coffey was expected to be moving to health secretary.
Filling cabinet positions with allies of the former prime minister could indicate an understanding from the frontrunner of her tenuous position in the party. Even party MPs not involved in the winter plot are said to be expecting Mr Johnson’s return in the future.
Mr Johnson’s political future is currently in the hands of the privileges committee, which is holding an inquiry into whether he misled MPs over the lockdown parties held in Number 10.
Advice commissioned by the Cabinet Office into the legal remit of the inquiry, conducted by Lord Pannick, branded the inquiry as “unfair” and “fundamentally flawed” this week.
The Tory leadership contest concludes on Monday when Sir Graham announces the winner, before Mr Johnson and the successful candidate meet with the Queen at Balmoral on Tuesday.