Tory leadership twist: Boris Johnson’s rivals to be eliminated in latest secret plan

Senior Cabinet ministers have revealed a new secret plan to avoid four weeks of “blue on blue” attacks. The ministers – who have no link to any of the six candidates – are examining whether Mr Johnson’s name alone could be forwarded to a “confirmatory” vote of the party’s 160,000 members, according to The Daily Telegraph. The plan was hatched amid concerns from senior members who believe weeks of “blue on blue” attacks could leave the new Tory leader weakened and vulnerable to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

This week, Mr Johnson has been branded by rival candidates as “poisoning politics” and pursuing “insane” tax cuts as well as being “yesterday’s news”.

If the proposal were to go ahead, the remaining candidates would be expected to bow out next week in favour of Mr Johnson before party members vote on whether they want him to be their new leader.

However, the party’s chairman Brandon Lewis needs to be convinced to back the plan.

Mr Lewis is determined to carry out the party’s wish for candidates to be grilled by members over 16 hustings events in every region on the UK over a four week period, commencing on June 22.

Ministers behind the plan hope a “confirmatory ballot” will alleviate Mr Lewis’s concerns.

Mr Johnson said this week that voters were now growing weary of senior Tories rowing in public.

Attacks on Mr Johnson have continued this week with Dominic Raab saying in The Daily Telegraph that he – a grammar school boy and the son of a refugee – is better placed to win a general election.

He later branded Mr Johnson as someone who is “easily caricatured as being from the privileged elite”.

It comes as Mr Johnson this week warned that any further delay to Brexit would “run up the white flag” to Brussels.

He said: “Unless we get ready, unless we show fortitude and determination, I don’t think we will carry conviction in Brussels about the deal we want to do.

“We have to get out by October 31 and I think it would be absolutely bizarre to signal at this stage that the UK government was willing once again to run up the white flag and delay yet again.

“My commitment is to honour the will of the people and take this country out on October 31 and to get this thing done.

“That is what people want. And the way to do it is to disaggregate the current Withdrawal Agreement and move on.

“Once we move on, we will be able to do many things, once we get Brexit off the front pages, that will be a massive opportunity for the Conservative Party once again to occupy the centre ground of politics and speak for huge numbers of people in the country who feel they were left behind.”

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