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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may face the most difficult challenge of his administration as his party appears to have had enough of his tenure and might look to start the process to remove him as party leader.
The Conservative Party requires 54 letters of no confidence to trigger a secret vote over party leadership. The Times in the U.K. reported that one rebel minister believes the total has reached 67 letters, meaning the vote will occur, likely this week.
The full count will occur Monday morning, but party backbenchers have supposedly already designated Wednesday as the day to hold the leadership vote.
One such member estimated that 190 conservative ministers could vote against Johnson, exceeding the required 180.
“It’s 55% that it happens on Monday or Tuesday,” a former cabinet minister told The Times. “It’s 80% there’s a vote after the two by-elections,” which would occur June 23.
Johnson’s administration has suffered a number of setbacks in the past year, starting with the ongoing controversy surrounding minister-sanctioned parties on government premises during the U.K.’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
The prime minister survived a similar challenge earlier this year over those controversies ahead of an investigation into the party scandal. The probe uncovered a total of 16 such gatherings in defiance of the lockdown rules, often with raucous atmospheres.
The revelations caused such a stir among voters that recent data compiled by market research company YouGov indicated the Conservative Party would lose 85 seats, and the opposing Labour Party would pick up 83 seats. The conservatives hold an 80-seat majority.
YouGov’s poll found that Labour had not only made gains in areas that the conservatives flipped during the last election but that it had made significant gains in traditional conservative strongholds, including Johnson’s own seat as well as those of several prominent conservative ministers.
“High-profile ‘Red Wall’ Conservative gains from 2019 … would fall back into Labour hands if an election were held tomorrow,” the pollster wrote of the results. “Every Conservative seat in Wales under our ‘battleground’ definition would be lost.”