In my view that calculation is clearly if not overwhelmingly in Sunak’s favour, but I am not a Tory MP. I suspect that the median Tory MP has a higher opinion of Johnson’s qualities than I have – and possibly a lower opinion of Sunak’s.
Ideally, I suspect Tory MPs wouldn’t want to make this decision now. They might prefer to let tax rises and the economy play out; to see whether time will heal the wounds inflicted by lockdown-breaking parties; and then see how they are placed in the autumn of next year for an election in the summer of 2024.
But they probably know that the timing of the decision is out of their hands, in that it will be decided by the most volatile and anti-Johnson fraction of the 359 Tory MPs (one fewer than at the start of the week, given that the single most volatile and antiJohnson Tory MP is now a Labour MP). Which means that every Tory MP has to be ready to decide where they stand, because it is likely that, after Sue Gray reports next week on lockdown parties, the threshold of 54 MPs will be breached – the number needed to write to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, asking for a vote of no confidence in the party leader.
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