When an MP has to say they are loyal…they aren’t

Boris Johnson has professed his undying loyalty to David Cameron…watch for a coup shortly after the Brexit vote.

Boris Johnson was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he admitted discussing the possibility of a leadership challenge against David Cameron with a fellow Tory MP.

Mr Johnson, the clear favourite to be the next Tory leader, met Alec Shelbrooke in his Commons office and speculated about the number of Tory MPs prepared to back a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister.

According to one version of the encounter, Boris said: ‘Are there 50 names?’ – a reference to the number of renegade MPs required to trigger a contest.

The former London Mayor last night confirmed that he met Mr Shelbrooke in his office and held a conversation about how many Tory MPs backed a coup – but insisted he had talked about ‘how vital it was to keep the party together under Dave’s leadership’.

The secret meeting comes as anti-Cameron plotters step up their activity following a spate of polls showing the referendum on a knife edge.  

Last night Bill Wiggin, a Tory MP suspected by Mr Cameron’s allies of involvement in a plot, angrily denied to The Mail on Sunday that he was involved, claiming that he was the victim of a ‘smear campaign’ by No 10. And a loyalist MP, Mark Menzies, was revealed to have complained to colleagues about being pressured by unidentified ‘antis’ into backing a revolt.

A vote of confidence by MPs in Mr Cameron’s leadership would be triggered if a minimum of 50 of them wrote a letter to Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, expressing their lack of support for the leader. If Mr Cameron lost this vote, a contest would begin in which he would be unable to stand for re-election.

Boris entered Mr Shelbrooke’s office after meeting the MP for Elmet and Rothwell in his Commons corridor last week.

Although Mr Shelbrooke is a Commons aide to pro-Brexit Employment Minister Priti Patel, he is also a Remain supporter and loyal to Mr Cameron.

Mr Shelbrooke has been overheard telling a fellow Conservative MP that he thought Boris was ‘digging’ and had asked him whether he thought there were ’50 names’ ready to go.

Mr Shelbrooke said he had shot back: ‘No, I don’t think there are anything like that. No more than 20 at most’, and that Boris had ‘hastily’ replied: ‘Yes, yes, of course, I think you are completely right.’

Mr Shelbrooke confided to his party colleague that, during the conversation, which continued in his nearby office, he thought that Boris seemed ‘rattled’ and ‘worried about how the next few months would pan out’.

But a source close to Boris describes that version as ‘absolute b******s’, saying that Boris was invited in to Mr Shelbrooke’s office while walking down the corridor – and that Mr Shelbrooke had initiated the conversation about 50 names. The source said: ‘They just talked in general about how vital it was to keep the party together under Dave’s leadership. Boris said he doubted that there were five people, let alone 50, who had put letters in.’

When an MP is professing undying loyalty then you can be assured there is plotting underway.

Boris Johnson has never rated David Cameron, and the way Cameron has handled Brexit may well seal his fate.

Downing Street’s nervousness over Boris’s effectiveness as a Brexit campaigner was revealed during ITV’s referendum debate on Thursday, when pro-Remain Cabinet Minister Amber Rudd delivered a series of No 10-sanctioned attacks, including the line: ‘He isn’t the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.’

If the Prime Minister loses the June 23 referendum he is widely expected to resign within hours.

But his position will still come under intense pressure if Remain fails to win the vote by a comfortable margin – set by his critics at around ten per cent. One poll published yesterday alarmed Downing Street by putting Remain ten per cent behind.

In just over a week we will know.

 – Daily Mail

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.