ormer Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt has dealt Boris Johnson a further blow after he announced he would be voting against the Prime Minister in Monday’s crunch confidence vote.
Mr Hunt, a former Health Secretary and Foreign Secretary, made the dramatic intervention just before 11am, teeing up a potential leadership contest if Mr Johnson is unable to secure the votes he needs from Conservative MPs.
Under Conservative Party rules – set by the 1922 backbench committee – a leader must win the support of half of their parliamentary collleagues plus one – which means Mr Johnson must secure 180 votes to carry on.
Mr Hunt, who stood against Mr Johnson when he lost to the Prime Minister in the last party leadership contest in July 2019, tweeted: “Having been trusted with power, Conservative MPs know in our hearts we are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve.
“We are not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.
“And because we are no longer trusted by the electorate, who know this too, we are set to lose the next general election.
“Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change.”
Mr Hunt’s decision to break cover after weeks of studiously avoiding making any public comment on the Prime Minister or his own ambitions has raised the stakes for Mr Johnson who is hoping to persuade Tory MPs to stick with him for the next general election, which must be held by 2024.
Other potential rivals for the leadership include Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, chair of Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
Another rival, Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, was noticeably silent on Twitter on Monday morning as other senior ministerial colelagues tweeted in support of Mr Johnson.