In the last few days, I have been saying in this blog that when MPs return to Westminster after the Jubilee celebrations at the weekend, then politics would return with a vengeance. It seems, though, that many MPs have had their ears bent by members of their constituency parties as they have been with them since last Wednesday evening, ready for the two Bank Holidays. It now seems that a clutch of MPs have sent in letters but ‘post-dated” as it were, to allow for the Queen’s celebrations to take place without the intrusion of politics. We now know that by last night, Sir Graham Brady the Chair of the Tory backbenchers 1922 committee had enough letters to cross the threshold of 54 MPs, being 15% of the parliamentary party. Incidentally, if you ignore the ‘payroll’ vote of ministers of all ranks who cannot make a profession on disloyalty without losing their jobs, then the 15% becomes about 30% of Tory MPs who are not office holders. This is getting on for a third of the ‘genuine’ back benchers and is quite a sizable chunk when viewed in this light. We woke up this morning to hear that the Chairman of the 1922 committee and the PM had been in touch last night, and there was agreement that now the 15% threshhold had been breached, a vote on Johnson’s leadership would take place from 6.00pm-8.00pm tonight in a secret ballet with the result announced at about 9.00pm. Boris Johnson needs to retain the support of 180 MPs but as 160-170 MPs form the payroll vote (ministers of various ranks, parliamentary private secretaries, trade envoys and an unknown number of party vice-chairs), he only needs 10-20 of the remaining 190 odd MPs to retain his position. It is widely anticipated that Boris Johnson will certainly get the 180 votes that are needed but the critical question is the size of the rebellion against him. To use an analogy popular with the grouse-sheeting fraternity, it is probable that the PM will be ‘winged’ but not brought down. However, the historical precedents of Margaret Thatcher and John Major suggest that even though a Prime Minister easily survives a vote of this nature, they are mortally wounded and their demise might only be weeks or months away. Certainly, the prospects of Boris Johnson leading the Tories into the next general election in about two year’s time will be much diminished – and the greater the vote against him, the less likely he is to be at the helm when the next general election comes. In two and a half week’s time, there are the two critical by-elections in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton. In Wakefield, the Tories may already have written this off as the Labour lead appears to 20% according to an opinion poll but I have not seen any opinion polls on the situation in Tiverton as yet.
When I showered this morning, the water pressure from the shower head seemed rather weak and then I discovered that there was a leak near the shower head and therefore a new shower cable was indicated. So we decided to go and collect our newspaper by car and then made our way to the local hardware centre to get a new shower cable. I chose one from a selection of cables that was hanging up, checked with the assistant it was probably what I needed and then popped into Waitrose to get some de-caff tea which I needed. Then in view of the political situation and the poor weather, it being quite cold, we decided to go home avoiding the park for the day and have our elevenses in front of the TV in view of the rapidly developing political situation. After lunch, I set to work fitting the new shower cable and was then faced with the reluctant conclusion that the cable I had not bought did not have the correct fittings at one end. So I took the old cable with me down to the hardware shop and got what I had purchased this morning with was properly packaged up and sold as a ‘shower cable’ The moral to all of this is that I should have taken off the old part and showed it to them in the store before I purchased the new one. I was pleased to see that the new cable seemed to go on quite easily with no dribbles or leaks which can occur if the cable and/or associated washers are of a lower quality that is necessary. Whilst I was out, some neighbours called round wanting to seek clarification about what work the BT team were going to do to install our fast broadband cable and that a blockage had been identified adjacent to their property. I managed to reassure them that the guys who popped round to see them from BT were genuine and not some kind of con artists. At the same time, I managed to show them the markings on the kerbstones adjacent to their property and the point at which a civil engineering team would call around to repair the portion of the BT cable that was blocked.