Tory crisis panic! Boris urged to rule out early general election as Blue Wall crumbles

Boris Johnson warns of possible ‘rough winter’

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Senior Tories have been speculating that the Prime Minister could go to the polls in spring 2023 to capitalise on his continuing popularity and the failure of Labour to recover ground under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership. But close allies now want the possibility scratched from Downing Street’s electoral plans after the unexpected Lib Dem triumph last week. One senior Cabinet source told the Daily Express: “The by-election has been useful in injecting a dose of realism into the party.

“There has been a bit too much triumphalism in the last few months.

“It will cool down the talk of a general election in 2023. I think we’re looking more towards May 2024 now. We should serve the best part of a full term before we have another general election.”

Mr Johnson won a landslide election victory in December 2019. Under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act introduced under David Cameron’s coalition, the next general election is due in May 2024 unless the Commons votes to trigger an early vote.

Ministers are committed to repealing the legislation to allow the Prime Minister to ask the Monarch for a dissolution of Parliament at any point within five years of the previous poll.

But the Cabinet source warned that the Act may take longer than expected to be scrapped.

“The Act is still on the statute books. Repeal takes parliamentary time and there are many other pressures on the Government’s legislative time,” the source said.

Lib Dem candidate Sarah Green overturned a rock-solid Tory majority in the Chesham and Amersham by-election last week by a margin of more than 8,000 votes.

She arrived at Westminster to take her Commons seat yesterday following the 30 percent swing from the Tories to the Lib Dems in the poll following the death of former Cabinet minister Dame Cheryl Gillan.

Her triumph sent shockwaves through the Tories, with some MPs concerned Mr Johnson’s drive to win votes in former Labour territory in the North of England has left their party vulnerable in the South.

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The Cabinet source urged MPs not to panic. “People shouldn’t get carried away,” the source said, pointing out that mid-term by-election losses for governing parties were a common feature of the Westminster electoral cycle.

Sir Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist who has been an adviser on several successful election campaigns, is said to have been in touch with a number of Cabinet ministers recently.

He is understood to have told them that recent opinion polls giving the Tories a 10-point lead over Labour have given a distorted picture of the current mood in the electorate.

Tory MPs have also blamed Mr Johnson’s overhaul of planning laws and refusal to scrap the HS2 rail project for the Chesham and Amersham defeat.

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Newly-elected Lib Dem MP Ms Green, who grew up in north Wales, took the affirmation in both English and Welsh as she took her seat in the Commons yesterday.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who welcomed Ms Green to the Commons, said: “It’s a historic day for Liberal Democrats. We showed that Boris Johnson could be beaten and I think we’ve put the smile back on people’s faces.

“The reality is this follows on from the success we had in May at the local elections in areas like Chesham and Amersham – if you look at Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, really strong Conservative areas, we made gains against the Conservatives.

“That’s why I think British politics is now changed as a result of the Liberal Democrat victory in Chesham and Amersham.

“There’s this Blue Wall which is now vulnerable to Liberal Democrat attack.

“People focus on the Red Wall in the North, but the Tories had better watch their rear flank because the Liberal Democrats are coming after them.”

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