Boris Johnson has vowed to stay on to fight the expected vote of no confidence (VONC) in his premiership, which could come before parliament’s summer recess. “PincherGate” has been the last straw for many Tory MPs who had given him the benefit of the doubt, but have now decided that they cannot wait until the autumn for the powerful Tory back-bench 1922 Committee to change its rules (that allow only one VONC in any given 12-month period) and stage another poll.
In all the mayhem of ministerial resignations, where do the South-West’s Tory MPs stand?
Steve Double, St Austell and Newquay, being on the “government payroll” as an assistant whip, although he doesn’t actually receive a salary, voted for Johnson in the first VONC on June 6th this year. He is likely to do so again.
George Eustice, Camborne and Redruth, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, is a Johnson loyalist. There is no question of him voting against Johnson in any scenario.
Cherilyn Mackrory, Truro and Falmouth, a personal private secretary in the Justice Department, voted for Johnson in the first VONC and is expected to do likewise in the next.
Scott Mann, North Cornwall, is another assistant whip who will have worked alongside Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher. He too is expected to remain loyal to Johnson.
Sheryll Murray, South-East Cornwall, tweeted “I have confidence in Boris Johnson for continuing as our Prime Minister and will be voting in support” prior to the first VONC. She has been absent from social media so far this month, but has given no indication of having changed her mind since the last vote.
Derek Thomas, St Ives, informed his constituents that he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister prior to the first VONC. His response to the latest crisis seems to be more wishy-washy. He told the BBC that to have an “easier life”, Mr. Johnson “could” think about leaving Downing Street, “but, ultimately, it’s up to him, and it’s up to him how he wants to progress; and I’d imagine he still feels that there’s still work he can do.” We can only hope he votes against Johnson again, given the unholy mess Johnson has made of things since the first VONC.
Sir Geoffrey Cox QC, Torridge and West Devon, is known to “enjoy” a tetchy relationship with Boris Johnson, after being sacked as Attorney General to be replaced by underwhelming and scandalously underqualified “yes” woman, Suella Braverman. He famously tweeted a clip from the film “A Man For All Seasons” when the government first proposed to endow itself with the power to break the law. However, he has been silent on whether or not he supports Johnson. He was cagey when challenged by anti-government corruption activist Steve Bray:
Kevin Foster, Torbay, announced that he had forgiven the PM for “PartyGate”, thanks especially to all the money he had been able to secure from him for his constituency: £21.9m for the Torbay Town Fund, £13.4m for the Paignton Future High Street Fund and new wards being built at the Torbay NHS hospital. He therefore voted in favour of the PM in the first VONC, but has made no comment as to how he might vote in a second VONC.
Simon Jupp, East Devon, has issued a general letter expressing his lack of confidence in the PM. While he has been good facing up to challenges like the war in Ukraine and protecting British workers’ jobs through furlough, too many of the challenges he has faced have been of his own making. Hear, hear!
Anthony Mangnall, Totnes, is one of the few members of the 2019 intake to have emerged from the chrysalis of leader sycophancy able to exercise independent thought. On social media he has called out the damage the prime minister is doing and called upon the Cabinet not to prop him up, using the hashtag #Time4Change.
Johnny Mercer, Plymouth Moor View, is a strange one. He complained that Theresa May’s government had become a “shit show”, but has so far not intervened in the should Johnson stay or go debate — despite a massive falling out with him when he was sacked as minister for veteran affairs in April 2021. “This is the most distrustful, awful environment I’ve ever worked in, in government. Almost nobody tells the truth,” he said at the time. His focus remains on veterans, and he seems content to prop up a government with a cesspit of sleaze at its heart, as long as he gets what he wants, as this exchange with former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart shows:
Anne Marie Morris, Newton Abbot, recently had the Tory whip restored. What was the first thing she did? Renew her letter to the 1922 Committee. It seems the lady is a woman of conviction. She has made up her mind and is not for turning.
Selaine Saxby, North Devon, has resigned as personal private secretary to the Treasury. In her resignation letter, she said she had not spoken out earlier so as not to influence the by-election result in Tiverton and Honiton, which occurred after the resignation of Neil Parish as an MP and was of course a resounding win for the Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Foord. The resignation signals that she will vote against Johnson in the next VONC.
Sir Gary Streeter, South West Devon, has been transparent in his disapproval of the way Boris Johnson has conducted his premiership and was one of the first Tory MPs to stand up and be counted. Readers may not be impressed with that, but it is not to be taken lightly, as Johnson had enormous power to make MPs’ lives a misery and prematurely end their careers, and he was vindictive enough to do it too.
Mel Stride, Central Devon, chair of the powerful Treasury Select Committee has been as silent as the grave on Boris Johnson’s suitability to lead the government. You might expect that Johnson’s revelation in the Liaison Committee that he did indeed meet with a KGB officer in Italy without any Foreign Office officials present when he was Foreign Secretary might worry him, especially after hosting talks on further sanctions against Russia. Stride keeps his own counsel.
Remember all this next time you get a chance to vote for your constituency MP.
(Dorset and Somerset MPs coming in Part 2.)