End of Boris? Three damning problems for Prime Minister as headaches mount

Susanna Reid criticises Boris Johnson following speech blunder

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Boris Johnson has a sizeable majority of upwards of 50, but in a recent vote, he saw a lot of backbencher MPs turn against him over social care reforms. The leader of the country is struggling with fledging public support, as well as dissension from backbencher MPs and a damning “Chatty Pig” leak within his Government. Many ministers have been forced to speak out in support of Mr Johnson today after the PM has been questioned about whether he is losing his grip over the Government and the country.

Boris Johnson will head to the House of Commons to defend himself today with MPs and members of the public having criticised his behaviour in recent weeks.

The past three weeks have proven to be extremely challenging for the PM who has faced backlash in the wake of the Owen Paterson scandal.

Concern for Mr Johnson’s wellbeing has increased in recent days, with many saying he is no longer up to the task of managing the country.

Tory MPs, including one Conservative Whip, have submitted letters of no confidence in the PM, according to the Telegraph.

The Tory whip said: “There is an assumption someone has put in a letter.

“The rumour is persistently around.

“It will not get anywhere near the 50 letters you would need, but it does cause angst.”

What are the key battles the PM is facing right now?

Growing rift with Rishi Sunk

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has remained popular with the public and Conservative Party members during the pandemic.

He has long been hailed as a natural successor as Tory Party leader, and PM, once Mr Johnson steps down.

When asked about his future political aspirations, Mr Sunak has consistently toed the party line and said he is focused on his role and supporting Mr Johnson.

However, Mr Sunak was one of the first senior members of the Cabinet to criticise the PM in the wake of the Owen Paterson debate.

The Chancellor admitted the Government must “do better” to tackle the sleaze scandal at a time when the PM had yet to apologise for his actions and the subsequent outraged fallout.

There is a growing rift between Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson, with particular attention being paid to the actions of some Treasury ties.

After several weeks of scandal, which has seen the Conservative Party and Mr Johnson suffer in the polls, the situation got worse this week after a “senior Downing Street source” issued a remarkably hostile briefing against the PM’s top team to the BBC.

The source said: “There is a lot of concern inside the building about the PM…It’s just not working.

“Cabinet needs to wake up and demand serious changes otherwise it’ll keep getting worse.

“If they don’t insist, he just won’t do anything about it.”

Government officials turned on one another on Monday night as they hunted for the culprit, nicknamed the “chatty pig”.

An ally of the Prime Minister told the Daily Mail: “Why is anyone in Downing Street putting this out there?

“It is so self-indulgent, so damaging – if that’s what you really think then you should do something about it or quit, not go bleating to the BBC.”

Many have alleged the leak came from “Rich’s glossy spin team”.

Tensions between Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak increased over the summer, with the divide getting worse in the run-up to the Budget and spending review.

The PM is facing calls from many people to rein in the Chancellor and his team. But Mr Johnson wants to avoid a similarly unceremonious departure as Sajid Javid.

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Performance of Downing Street operation

Mr Johnson is also facing widespread criticism for his Number 10 operation.

There have been calls for another shake-up, despite Mr Johnson reshuffling his Cabinet in September.

Both public and private calls for change have been made in recent days – but Mr Johnson has maintained his Government is working well – or at least it was until the Owen Paterson sleaze debacle.

An MP told the FT: “Bojo has lost his mojo.

“There’s a mixture of anger and despair but the real frustration is with the [No. 10] operation, it’s amateurish.”

The wall-to-wall coverage of the sleaze row saw a five percent drop in the polls for the Tories – with Labour narrowly edging ahead for the first time in months.

Mr Johnson finally admitted to his own MPs that he had “crashed the car” on a straight road over the Paterson affair.

But the PM’s headaches did not end there, and now he is facing dissension around 10 Downing Street, his Cabinet, and Parliament.

Mr Johnson’s allies point to the issue stemming from the departure of Dominic Cummings, who was his chief advisor, as well as the departures of Lee Cain, his director of communications, and Lord Udny-Lister, his chief of staff.

MPs fear there is a lack of management at Downing Street and instead, rebellion is being left to fester.

The new Cabinet and Government are not as allied with Mr Johnson as his predecessors, which is further assisting the anti-Johnson narrative.

In a bid to attempt to quiet concerns, Mr Johnson has brought in his long-standing aide Ben Gascoigne, who quit as private secretary in May.

Mr Gascoigne returned as a Whitehall enforcer last month and is being tasked with “kicking people’s backsides” into gear, according to sources.

But gaps and animosity still remain in place – with allies desperate to seek out the “mole” who is helping to spread bad news about the PM.

Two Cabinet members have told The Telegraph that Mr Johnson needs more help in managing his workload and prioritising.

One said: “He is drowning.”

Senior Tories also claim Mr Johnson’s two Parliamentary Private Secretaries, Andre

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w Griffith and Sarah Dines, both elected to Parliament in 2019, are too inexperienced.

One senior Tory MP told the Telegraph: “He needs PPSs who are senior who can say how it is.”

Relationship of Downing Street and Chief Whip Mark Spencer with Conservative MPs

Mr Johnson is struggling in the face of his ever-worsening relationship with backbench Tory MPs.

Disaffected and disenchanted Conservatives are becoming increasingly restless with the PM’s lack of action – particularly concerning the migrant crisis, rebellions over sewage discharges into rivers, the scaling back of Northern powerhouse rail plans and social care reform.

The intake of MPs in 2019 are among his most vocal critics, and are said to be frustrated by the PM’s recent actions.

Last week’s changes to the northern rail network plans deeply outraged Red Wall Tories, hard-won by the Conservatives in the 2019 election.

In a peacemaking drinks session on Tuesday, MPs were invited to Downing Street to express their views.

Mr Johnson’s policy outlook and style are deemed as a risk to losing voters within his party, which he picked up in 2005 and 2019.

The battleground which may soon dominate British politics is likely to be the tensions between the traditional Tory heartland of middle-class, middle-income seats and the new hard-won Tory Red Wall areas.

Some backbench MPs have reportedly submitted letters of no confidence in the PM to Graham Brady.

To trigger a no-confidence vote, 54 Tory MPs need to send letters of no confidence.

Many Commons insiders claim it is unlikely this many have been sent in at this time, but it is thought more are due in recent days if scandals continue to impact the standing of Mr Johnson and the Tory Party.

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