Tory Cabinet ministers have been told to oust Boris Johnson or face defeat in the next general election.
Her Tory counterpart Lord Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff at No 10, said if the Tory party continued as it is, it was “sleeping towards defeat at the next election”.
It comes after the party was wiped out in two key by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield.
Barwell told Sky News he was “very happy” that a senior party official appeared to “finally” recognize this and do something about it, following Oliver Dowden’s resignation as Tory chairman.
He said Johnson’s authority was “very greatly reduced” and “worn down”.
Lord Barwell said Cabinet ministers must ask themselves what it does to their own reputations if they continue to support him.
“Evidence is mounting that he has lost the public support he once had, that it seems extremely unlikely that he can regain it,” he said.
“So if they allow him to continue, then they are going to allow him to lead the Conservative Party to a significant defeat in the next election.”
In a letter to Boris Johnson, he said ‘we can’t carry on business as usual – someone has to take responsibility’.
Dowden said they were “the latest in a series of very poor results for our party”.
“Our supporters are saddened and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings,” he said.
Meanwhile, Johnson sought to deflect attention from by-election defeats regarding his leadership.
He told broadcasters in Rwanda: “That may be your point of view. I think what governments also need to recognize is that I don’t want to minimize the importance of what voters are saying, but it’s also true that in the medium term, the government, post-war, loses the partial elections.
“I think if you look back to last May, the really amazing thing is that we managed to win Hartlepool under very different circumstances.
“What we need to do now is think about where the voters are, and what they basically feel is that we got through Covid well and made a lot of good decisions there. But we face cost of living pressures.
“We are seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs, which are hitting people. We need to recognize that there is more we need to do and we certainly will, we will continue to address people’s concerns until we get through this patch.