Voices: John Rentoul to host an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Boris Johnson’s future

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Boris Johnson insisted leadership matters had been dealt with (Dan Kitwood/PA) (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson insisted leadership matters had been dealt with (Dan Kitwood/PA) (PA Wire)

Since the prime minister won the vote of confidence in his leadership three weeks ago, the speculation about his future has only increased. Although Boris Johnson claimed a “new mandate”, he could not escape the reality that 41 per cent of his parliamentary party had voted against him.

He was reduced to making light of the plotting against him, telling travelling journalists in Rwanda at the Commonwealth summit: “At the moment I am thinking actively about the third term and what could happen then, but I will review that when I get to it.” When asked to elaborate he said he was thinking about the “mid 2030s”.

To take part in the AMA, post your questions in the comments below.

I don’t think Johnson will go on and on that long, but I think some of the coup speculation is overdone. He is entitled under the rules to cling on for another year, and even if a more strenuously hostile slate of MPs is elected to the executive of the 1922 Committee next month I doubt if it will actually change the rules until there is another crisis.

Even David Davis, who quoted Cromwell’s “in the name of God, go” has now added: “in a year’s time”.

Johnson was also on to something when he said he didn’t think any of his critics were proposing different policies. And his critics still cannot name a plausible successor. Some of them mope around Westminster saying “anyone would be better than Boris Johnson”, but it is not true, and until there is at least one candidate who obviously would be, the coup remains on hold.

But it is only a temporary stay. Steve Baker, the leader of the backbench Eurosceptics, has been talking of Tory MPs having to prepare in case Johnson tries to call a general election – which he is theoretically able to do now that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act has been repealed.

Meanwhile, the government’s business is being affected. Theresa May said on Monday: “As I discovered after I had faced a no-confidence vote – and despite having won that vote – the EU then starts to ask itself, ‘Is it really worth negotiating with these people in government, because will they actually be there in any period of time?’”

Meanwhile ministers are jockeying for attention, and positioning themselves for a possible leadership contest, which can distract from their day jobs. Yet the field remains wide open, with Jeremy Hunt given the best rating by the betting market for the succession, but only a 14 per cent chance. He is followed by Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Ben Wallace, Rishi Sunak, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi.

If you have a question about anything to do with the prime minister’s future, submit it now, or when I join you live at 1pm on Thursday 30 June for the ‘Ask Me Anything’ event.

To get involved all you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments below.

If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the comments box to leave your question. Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they may be hidden until I join the conversation to answer them. Then join us live on this page at 1pm on Thursday as I tackle as many questions as I can.