Tiverton by-election: Boris Johnson warned of ‘game over’
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Boris Johnson, 57, faced yet more pressure from a familiar foe yesterday just hours after the Prime Minister narrowly won his 1922 Committee confidence vote on Monday. Mark Harper, 52, who received the backing of just 10 MPs when he challenged Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, called on the Prime Minister to restore his Conservative credentials at the heart of Government.
The Prime Minister narrowly saw off the most significant threat to his leadership yesterday after 148 MPs rebelled in his confidence vote.
Mr Johnson retained the support of 211 Conservative colleagues.
However, the ex-Chief Whip and chairman of the Covid Recovery Group made the remark following an appearance with the free-market Adam Smith Institute.
Mr Harper said: “Great to talk to the Adam Smith Institute.
“A room fizzing with ideas and reminders that a Conservative Government must actually be Conservative.”
The Forest of Dean MP, who saw his majority almost double when Mr Johnson pledged to ‘Get Brexit Done’ in the last general election, added: “The Prime Minister promised my colleagues some new stuff yesterday: properly seizing Brexit benefits, cutting taxes and regaining trust.
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“Not long to deliver!”
During his address to MPs ahead of the ballot, Mr Johnson made several pledges to adopt a more Conservative agenda going forward.
He said: “It is time to end the learned helplessness of Covid and to drive a Conservative programme of reform and change and cutting costs.
Mr Johnson added: “We have the right ideas for the time, we can get this country through a difficult time and by supply side reform and bearing down on taxation.
“We can unleash the potential of this country.”
The Prime Minister is now poised to make several announcements later this week, including on the NHS and housing.
Mr Johnson also appeared defiant as he responded to the result.
He said: “I think it’s a convincing result, decisive result and what it means is that as a Government we can move on and focus on the stuff that really matters to people.”
Speaking to his Cabinet on Tuesday, the Prime Minister added: “We are able now to draw a line under the issues that our opponents want to talk about and we are able to get on with talking about what I think the people in this country want us to talk about, which is what we are doing to help them and take this country forward.”
Mr Johnson’s call for the Conservative Party to unite and move on has been well-received by one MP who rebelled against the Prime Minister on Monday.
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Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills, who backed Mr Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, told Times Radio that the confidence vote should “draw a line in the sand” and added “we have to accept the winner gets to govern”.
However, Tobias Ellwood, an arch-Johnson critic and proponent of the UK rejoining the EU’s single market, suggested he could support a revision of leadership election rules, meaning the Prime Minister would no longer get a 12 month grace period.
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