Politics latest news: Tobias Ellwood to submit letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson and says a vote in Commons is ‘inevitable’

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Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, has urged Boris Johnson to call a vote of no confidence - Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, has urged Boris Johnson to call a vote of no confidence – Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

A vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson is now “inevitable”, Tobias Ellwood has said as he confirmed he will submit a letter to the 1922 Committee later today.

Mr Ellwood, the chairman of the defence committee, told Sky News the ongoing row over alleged parties at Downing Street was “horrible” for Conservative MPs to continue to have to defend to the British public, and attacked “rushed policy announcements” from No 10.

“I don’t think the Prime Minister realises how worried colleagues are in every corner of the party, backbenchers and ministers alike that this is all only going one way,” Mr Ellwood told Sky News.

“I believe it’s time for the Prime Minister to take a grip of this, he himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be eventually submitted. It’s time to resolve this completely, so the party can get on with governing.

“And yes, I know the next question you’ll ask, I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee.”

He also criticised Boris Johnson’s claims about Sir Keir Starmer in relation to Jimmy Savile on Monday, adding: “We must seek to improve our standards.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

09:55 AM

Jeremy Hunt: We must hold firm against Russia’s threats

Bill Clinton once told me the key thing was to look not at the headlines but the trendlines, writes Jeremy Hunt. It’s a useful exercise when it comes to working out what is happening in Ukraine. It can help us understand, in particular, how much of what Putin is doing is bluff and how much is genuinely a prelude to an invasion.

The headlines tell us that 100,000 Russian troops are poised to invade its democratic neighbour. The trendline tells us this is part of a well-worn pattern of expansionism: do something outrageous, expect a bit of huffing and puffing from the West, wait for it all to calm down and then bank your gains.

That is what happened after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, the invasion of two provinces of Georgia in 2008, the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and arguably the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in 2018 – at least if you look at the entire European response rather than Britain’s, which was admirably robust.

With a GDP the size of Spain, Russia is not economically strong. But it knows how to punch above its weight, exploiting hesitation and weakness in its opponents. When you look at the pattern – the trendline – surely the answer is that the Russians will do whatever they think they can get away with without having to put up with any long-term consequences.

Jeremy Hunt: The worst thing to do is reward Putin’s aggression

09:48 AM

Full list of Tories calling for Boris Johnson to resign

Boris Johnson is facing the largest threat to his premiership as calls mount for his resignation and reports are growing of letters of no confidence being handed in.

The Prime Minister rejected accusations that he lied to Parliament over allegations of attending a Covid-rule breaking party in No 10 on May 20, 2020, insisting that “nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules”.

Tobias Ellwood has become the tenth MP to demand the resignation of the Prime MinisterTobias Ellwood has become the tenth MP to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister

Tobias Ellwood has become the tenth MP to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister

He repeated his apology after the publication of an update by Sue Gray, the top civil servant, which found “failings of leadership and judgment” in No 10 and across Government during the pandemic.

Only yesterday did Peter Aldous confirm he was submitting a letter of no confidence and called for Mr Johnson to go, saying he had been put in an “invidious position” amid the ongoing uproar over alleged Downing Street parties.

Have a look at the full list here

09:34 AM

What would a vote of no confidence mean for Boris Johnson?

Tobias Ellwood suggested a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership is now “inevitable” and urged him to call one himself as he confirmed he had lost confidence in his party leader.

Fifty-four is the so-called “magic number” of letters that need to be submitted by disillusioned Tory MPs to trigger a no-confidence vote and determine whether the Prime Minister remains in office.

 With Tory MPs threatening to sink Boris Johnson, there is now only one question in Westminster - Jessica Taylor/AFP With Tory MPs threatening to sink Boris Johnson, there is now only one question in Westminster - Jessica Taylor/AFP

With Tory MPs threatening to sink Boris Johnson, there is now only one question in Westminster – Jessica Taylor/AFP

Should the threshold be reached, recent history suggests Boris Johnson’s fate could be decided within hours rather than days.

However, even if the Prime Minister were to survive a challenge, it is by no-means certain that he could continue to cling onto power having lost the support of so many of his backbenchers.

Harry Yorke, our Whitehall Editor, has this explainer

09:26 AM

‘Medieval court’ of No 10 leaves Boris facing regicide

As he settled into his seat for the flight to Ukraine yesterday, Boris Johnson might have allowed himself a chuckle of quiet satisfaction, writes Philip Johnston.

He had survived the moment of greatest peril to his premiership; and even if the road ahead is not exactly clear of obstacles, well, they can be negotiated when reached.

Those who want to see Mr Johnson toppled still hope that the Met police or photographs of him cavorting in a party hat while swigging from a bottle of champagne will deliver the coup de grace. But that ship has sailed.

The focus now will be on the burgeoning crisis in eastern Europe and a domestic cost-of-living crunch in the spring. Inevitably, the passage of time will see tempers cool over the lockdown breaches and distaste with the shenanigans in No 10 diminish. What it will not do, however, is dissipate the great harm that has been done to trust between the Government and the governed.

Philip Johnston: In the court of King Boris, little is likely to change

09:18 AM

The big question: Is Boris Johnson’s record enough?

Are Boris Johnson’s achievements in office to date enough for him to stay on as Prime Minister in the face of the current “partygate” row?

That is the question Conservative MPs will now have to answer as Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, said that getting Brexit done and 138 million vaccine doses rolled out can no longer justify Mr Johnson’s position (see 9.03am).

Allies of Mr Johnson – including Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister and Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary – have urged the Prime Minister to “get on with the job”, while Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, stressed the “mood was positive” in Tory ranks.

A key line of defence used by Boris Johnson's allies has been the PM's role in the vaccine rollout - Adrian Dennis/Pool Photo via APA key line of defence used by Boris Johnson's allies has been the PM's role in the vaccine rollout - Adrian Dennis/Pool Photo via AP

A key line of defence used by Boris Johnson’s allies has been the PM’s role in the vaccine rollout – Adrian Dennis/Pool Photo via AP

“Of course he’s sorry, you can feel the remorse and upset and empathy with how people feel,” Ms Dorries told Radio 4 yesterday. “But we do have to get on with the job, the country just can’t stop running.”

What some on the backbenches will be wondering is if the current scandal is preventing this. After all, the PM had to cancel a call with Vladimir Putin on Monday as he fielded almost two hours of bruising questions about alleged partying at the centre of power while millions of Britons were told to stay at home for the greater good.

The mood of Mr Johnson’s MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions will be telling. On Monday, they sat and listened to Sir Keir Starmer in subdued silence as he criticised Mr Johnson over “partygate”. Whether there will be a stronger show of support this lunchtime is yet to be seen.

09:07 AM

Watch: The moment Tobias Ellwood urged Johnson to call no-confidence vote

09:03 AM

Tobias Ellwood: Brexit and vaccines can’t save Boris Johnson

Getting Brexit done and the success of the vaccine rollout cannot save Boris Johnson’s premiership, the Tory chairman of the defence committee has said.

Tobias Ellwood, who confirmed to Sky News he will submit a letter of no confidence, said in a candid interview with Kay Burley: “We’ve had lots of reminders, of course, of why we’ve got Boris to thank. Brexit impasse, he solved that, resolute election winner, yes, phenomenal vaccine rollout, absolutely right.

“But it’s not the previous battles that matter, it’s the domestic and international ones ahead of us that count.

“And the question is now for all of us: Is the Prime Minister to lead the party moving forward?”

08:48 AM

Breaking: Tobias Ellwood to submit letter of no confidence

Tobias Ellwood, the former defence minister, confirmed he will submit a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson to the 1922 Committee later today.

Asked whether Boris Johnson being found to have attended parties during lockdown would move the goalposts, he told Sky News: “For me it already has. For me, the situation is the Sue Gray report wasn’t published in full so once again we’re having to wait for a police report which could then be months away.

“[There’s] the prospect of a steady drip of stories as we’ve seen in the press today which all dominate the news cycle, and this is just horrible for all MPs to continue to have to defend this to the British public.

“Now the Government’s acknowledged the need for fundamental change, culture, makeup, change, discipline, the tone of No 10 but the strategy it seems has been one of survival, of rushed policy announcements, the Navy taking over the migrant Channel crisis, and attacking Keir Starmer with Jimmy Savile. Who advised the Prime Minister to say this?

“I believe it’s time for the Prime Minister to take a grip of this, he himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be eventually submitted. It’s time to resolve this completely so the party can get on with governing. And yes, I know the next question you’ll ask, I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee.”

08:42 AM

Dominic Cummings: Furlough success could make a Prime Minister of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak is “obviously the frontrunner” in any leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings has said.

“He’s way ahead in the polls and unlike Liz Truss/Jeremy Hunt/Tom Tugendhat was pro-Brexit,” Mr Cummings wrote in an ‘ask me anything’ session on his blog.

“His team conceived and executed furlough in very tough circumstances, and which was one of most popular things a politician has done in a very long time,” he added. “That will be a big strength when the contest comes.”

On Mr Tugendhat, who last weekend told the Times it would be a “huge privilege” to serve as Prime Minister, Mr Cummings noted he has never held a ministerial position.

“It is hard to imagine Tory MPs promoting someone straight to the top job who has not been in Cabinet. I’m not aware of what TT has done… is he just another speech-giver?!”

08:35 AM

12 commandments for levelling up Britain to be set in stone

A dozen pledges to “level up” Britain are to be enshrined in law in an attempt to set the Government’s agenda for the rest of the decade, Michael Gove will announce later today.

The flagship Levelling Up White Paper promises improved infrastructure, research and development funding, educational outcomes and quality of life across Britain, to be delivered in a range of targets ministers hope to reach by 2030.

It also offers greater devolution to towns and cities over the next eight years, in what officials describe as a “devolution revolution” and a “huge shift of power from Whitehall to local leaders”.

Wednesday’s long-awaited paper provides the most comprehensive definition yet of levelling up, which some MPs have complained is a vague policy agenda.

Tony Diver and Camilla Turner have more on Gove’s 12 pledges

08:32 AM

Boris Johnson in Downing Street flat on night of party being investigated by police

Boris Johnson was in the Downing Street flat the night of a gathering being investigated by police for potential Covid law breaches, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Prime Minister was seen heading up to his flat on November 13 2020 – the day Dominic Cummings, his former senior adviser, was forced out of Downing Street.

Abba songs including The Winner Takes It All were heard blaring from the flat, the Mail on Sunday has reported. Mr Johnson has denied there was a party.

The Prime Minister yesterday declined to say whether he was in the flat that night. Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, was reportedly there that evening.

In a question and answer session online, Mr Cummings claimed there were photographs of the Downing Street flat gathering. He called it a “party” and said music could be heard by others in the building.

Ben Riley-Smith and Harry Yorke have the story

08:30 AM

Ministers have ‘a lot to do’ on levelling up, Michael Gove admits

Michael Gove said ministers have “a lot to do” to counter scepticism towards politicians and deliver on levelling up after 12 years in office.

Mr Gove recalled Liam Byrne, the former Labour chief secretary to the Treasury, leaving a note for his successor which said: “I’m afraid there is no money”.

The Levelling Up Secretary stressed the need for “difficult economic decisions” under the David Cameron administration, and the Brexit vote marked a turning point.

“Boris Johnson was elected in 2019 as the leader of a new government determined to change that economic model,” he said.

“We had two years of Covid when we were preparing our proposals for levelling, and indeed laying the groundwork with our Levelling Up Fund and other transfusions of cash to the frontline. And now we’re laying out the plan for 2030.”

08:23 AM

You can’t always get what you want

Michael Gove appeared to confirm he did not get everything he wanted from Rishi Sunak when asked about news he asked the Chancellor for more funding.

Mr Gove said the Spending Review saw money “put in departmental bank accounts” by Mr Sunak which was now being allocated to mayors and other local leaders.

Asked about reports he asked Mr Sunak for more money to put financial heft behind his ideas, the Levelling Up Secretary said: “I did ask the Chancellor for a lot. And he gave it to me, that was what was happening in the Spending Review.”

 Secretary of State Michael Gove - Steve Parsons/PA Wire Secretary of State Michael Gove - Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Secretary of State Michael Gove – Steve Parsons/PA Wire

But pressed on if he got “everything you wanted”, Mr Gove replied: “In this life we never get everything we want, but in the words of Mick Jagger ‘you might not always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need’.”

That doesn’t quite sound like complete Satisfaction.

08:15 AM

Michael Gove: Vladimir Putin must ‘back off’

Asked about Russian media having a field day portraying the “partygate” scandal as an example of British incompetence, Michael Gove said it was a “badge of pride [that] Russian television is attacking our Prime Minister”.

Russia’s state-owned news channel Rossiya 24 ridiculed the Prime Minister’s demeanour in the Commons on Monday and said he “does not look that cheerful any longer”.

“One of the reasons that Russian television is attacking the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister is leading the West’s efforts in order to ensure that we defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity against Putin,” Mr Gove said.

Boris Johnson - Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu AgencyBoris Johnson - Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency

Boris Johnson – Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency

“In the Ukraine there is a recognition that Britain and Poland are its two strongest allies. We were told Britain after Brexit would be on the margins, on the sidelines of the big international issues… Far from being criticised by democrats internationally, we are leading the fight for democracy.”

On Boris Johnson cancelling a call with Vladimir Putin on Monday because he took almost two hours of questions on the Downing Street party row, Mr Gove insisted: “I don’t think you necessarily need to dial Vladimir Putin on his mobile phone for him to get the message that he should back off.”

08:10 AM

Some party allegations ‘speculation and not true’, claims Michael Gove

Some of the allegations around Downing Street parties are “speculation and not true”, Michael Gove has claimed.

Mr Gove said it was a “hypothetical question” as to whether Boris Johnson should resign if found to have misled Parliament.

“All of these allegations are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police… I think it’s only right that we allow the Met to get on with their work and appropriate conclusions can be drawn at the end,” he told Sky News.

“As I know, there [are] all sorts of allegations and speculation in the media. Fair enough. But the Met are doing their job and until they’ve concluded I don’t think it would be right for me to comment.

“All I would say is that there are sorts of allegations that have been made. I know that some of the allegations that have been made in some parts of the media are speculation that is not true… The Met are looking at those facts.”

08:07 AM

Wake up to Levelling Up

Good morning from Westminster where a dozen different pledges to “level up” Britain will be enshrined in law today to set the Government’s agenda for the rest of the decade.

Here’s the front page of your Daily Telegraph:

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