British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fresh criticism by a senior Tory MP who says the premier risks a leadership challenge unless No. 10 “gets its act together.”
Simon Hoare, the North Dorset MP and chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, attacked Johnson’s botched attempt to protect a former cabinet minister from a Commons suspension over lobbying and overhaul Westminster’s standards watchdog.
Backed by Johnson, Conservative lawmakers narrowly voted to halt a proposed 30-day suspension from parliament of Owen Paterson, who had been found guilty of repeatedly lobbying for two firms, which paid him nearly three times his annual salary.
Instead, they pushed through a proposal to delay the suspension and set up a new committee to review his case and the wider system of investigating lawmakers.
Hoare said it was not yet time to discuss “leadership challenges”, as claims that some of his colleagues have submitted letters pushing for that to happen surface.
However, he added, “That comes with a health warning, that No 10 as an operation needs to pull its socks up, get its act together, start talking to the parliamentary party far more than it has been doing up until now.
“That has, of course, been difficult because of Covid and the restrictions being there ... I don’t think we’ve gone past the point of no return, but the act needs to get better,” he told BBC Northern Ireland’s Sunday Politics.
Hoare described as “manifestly wrong” the forcing through of an amendment to prevent Paterson from being suspended.
“Clearly the operation of No 10 needs to sharpen itself; the political antenna of No 10 needs to be far more acute,” he said.
The new criticism comes after Johnson’s speech to the CBI was widely ridiculed. The prime minister, in his speech, fumbled and talked about his visit to the Peppa Pig World theme park.
Meanwhile, allegations of sleaze will be discussed at Westminster on Monday, with the publication of cross-party recommendations for a clampdown on MPs’ second jobs.
It has emerged numerous MPs had high-paying second jobs, in particular lawyer and former attorney general Geoffrey Cox.
In a U-turn this month, Johnson proposed curbing outside work to “within reasonable limits” angering some of his MPs with lucrative outside earnings.
He had already alienated newer MPs in marginal seats by whipping them to protect Paterson.
In addition, important announcements on capping social care costs and improving northern rail services backfired after major elements of both were watered down.
At least 54 MPs would need to submit letters requesting a leadership challenge before it could go ahead.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and foreign secretary Liz Truss are the favorites to take over, with both regarded as “on maneuvers”, a source told the Daily Mail last month.