Tory MP accuses No 10 of using blackmail against colleagues challenging Johnson – UK politics live

Good morning. The best play on regicide in English literature is Macbeth, which includes the sound advice: “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.” Boris Johnson is a big fan of the play; Jennifer Arcuri once said they used to read it together on dates. But the Tory MPs plotting to force him out seem less familiar with the masterpiece, because the intense speculation about a vote of no confidence being triggered this week (which peaked on Tuesday night) has now faded. “If it were done, ‘twere well to wait for the Sue Gray report first” now seems to be the advice they are following.

The surprise defection of the Conservative MP Christian Wakeford to Labour has made a difference. Here is the write-through by my colleagues Jessica Elgot, Aubrey Allegretti and Rowena Mason that explains why.

And this morning the Conservative MP Andrew Percy has said this explicitly. He told the Today programme:

It’s kind of made people a bit more relaxed, it’s calmed nerves. I think people have recognised that actually this constant navel gazing and internal debating is only to the advantage of our political opponents.

The prime minister is probably thanking Christian for what he did because it’s made a lot of people think again, think twice.

This may seem like good news for Johnson, but all that has really changed is timing. As the politics professor Tim Bale argues, the fundamental situation for the prime minister remains grim.

Tim Bale

Would an enterprising political journalist please ask Tory MPs to explain the logic behind the idea that one of them defecting to Labour means that the PM is now less of an electoral liability than he was before that defection. I just don’t get it. Help!

January 20, 2022

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Steve Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee about the work of his department.

After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, takes questions from MPs on next week’s business.

11am: Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, gives a speech on Labour’s plan for growth.

11am: Tony Blair, the former Labour prime minister, gives a speech on the future of Britain.

11am: Maria Caulfield, the health minister, gives evidence to the Commons health committee about cancer services.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions in the Scottish parliament.

There will be some UK Covid coverage here, but for more coronavirus coverage, do read our global live blog. It’s here.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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