By Tony Earnshaw
Kirklees MPs Mark Eastwood and Jason McCartney have confirmed they will be supporting Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the vote of no confidence set to take place this evening.
In response to a direct question by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) Mr Eastwood, who was elected in the Conservative landslide of 2019, said: “I shall be backing the Prime Minister at tonight’s vote. He has made all the right calls on Brexit, furlough, the vaccine roll-out and leading us out of the pandemic.
“Rather than having a prolonged and divisive leadership battle, we need to get on with the urgent job of dealing with the pandemic aftershocks, which are having a detrimental impact on the economy, and standing with the people of Ukraine against Russian tyranny.”
Asked by the LDRS for an indication of his voting intentions Mr McCartney said: “I want the PM to be fully focused on tackling the cost of living [crisis], dealing with the NHS backlogs and continuing our magnificent support for the people of Ukraine. This just isn’t the right time for a protracted three-month-long leadership campaign.”
Asked if that meant he was supporting Mr Johnson, Mr McCartney replied: “Yep.”
The no confidence vote was triggered after more than 15% of Tory MPs sent letters – 54 or more – calling for the PM’s resignation to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful backbench 1922 Committee.
A secret ballot will be held between 6pm and 8pm today with the vote counted immediately afterwards. If Mr Johnson secures the support of at least 50% of all Conservatives MPs plus one, he will stay in office and may not face another challenge for a year.
The PM has already received support online from Cabinet colleagues including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.