BORIS Johnson’s days in Downing Street are numbered unless he gives a clear path out of lockdown soon, influential Tories have warned.
Powerful backbencher Steve Baker, who was instrumental in the downfall of Theresa May, has privately said “it’s inevitable the Prime Minister’s leadership will be on the table.”
In an explosive rallying call to fellow members of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, the ex-minister blasted: “people are telling me they are losing faith in our Conservative Party leadership.”
The group represents dozens of Tory backbenchers who are worried about the side effects of long lockdowns.
Mr Baker urged those colleagues to make their concerns directly to Mr Johnson’s Commons enforcer, Chief Whip Mark Spencer.
In a bombshell note to MPs seen by The Sun, Mr Baker writes: “I am sorry to have to say this again and as bluntly as this, it is imperative you equip the Chief Whip today with your opinion that debate will become about the PM’s leadership if the Government does not set out a clear plan for when our full freedoms will be restored.”
He told them to demand “a guarantee that this strategy will not be used again next winter.”
The major intervention reads: “Government has adopted a strategy devoid of any commitment to liberty without any clarification about when our most basic freedoms will be restored and with no guarantee that they will never be taken away again.”
It comes as:
- Fears have grown the new mutant strain of the virus from Brazil could make vaccines less effective
- Covid cases have started to fall in most areas – but Liverpool ‘now worse’ than parts of London
- A travel ban was slapped on Portugal and all of South America to stop the spread of the new variant
- Fresh guidance told schools not to hand out free school meals over February half-term – but to claim cash from a separate local fund instead
- Lockdown could continue in some form until autumn, Professor Lockdown has claimed
It continues: “People are telling me they are losing faith in our Conservative Party leadership because they are not standing up for our values as a party.”
“If we continue forward with a strategy that hammers freedom, hammers the private sector, hammers small business owners and hammers the poor, inevitably the Prime Minister’s leadership will be on the table.
“We strongly do not want that after all we have been through as a country.”
But he later confirmed his support for the PM in a tweet, saying: “What this country needs is the complete success of @BorisJohnson, with his excellent EU deal, a successful vaccination programme and a #Road2Recovery back to freedom.
“I am clear Boris is the only person to lead us out of these difficulties and I support him in that endeavour.”
Mr Baker broke cover after government scientist Jonathan Van Tam told this newspaper yesterday that lockdown measures could be enforce until late spring.
And today controversial scientist Neil Ferguson said we could still be facing restrictions in the autumn.
Mr Baker raged: “Certain Government scientists have said that the current lockdown could last until late spring. There is no reason to think there will be any real resistance in Cabinet to the argument for greater and longer and more draconian restrictions on the public.
“This could be a disaster. Nothing seems more certain to break the public than giving hope before taking it away, and doing it repeatedly.”
And he signs off with a barely concealed warning shot: “I am sorry to be blunt but if we do not act now, events will become inevitable. For the good of the country please contact the Chief Whip.”
Downing Street have been approached for comment.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner said: “The day after our country recorded the highest daily death toll since this crisis started, the Conservatives are playing politics and fighting amongst themselves.”