To oust Rishi Sunak: MPs and political strategists conspire to get new Prime Minister in before election

11:20 11.12.2023 •

The Giovanni's (pictured), a long-established family Italian restaurant in London 's Covent Garden.

Over dishes of ravioli and sliced calves liver, washed down by bottles of southern Italian red, Rishi Sunak's political enemies plotted their next moves against the Government, The Daily Mail disclosed.

The venue was Giovanni's, a long-established family Italian restaurant in London's Covent Garden run by Sicilian aristocrat Count Pino Ragona and whose walls are bedecked with pictures of celebrity customers such as Frank Sinatra – and Liz Truss.

The conspirators, a determined cabal of MPs and political strategists, were busy turning a torrent of headlines damaging to the Prime Minister.

The intention was to leave No 10 reeling from a series of blows in the wake of last month's sacking of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary.

Her brutally personal parting-shot letter was followed last week by the resignation of Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick over Sunak's plans to use emergency legislation to rescue his scheme to send Channel migrants to Rwanda, which he felt did not go far enough.

Downing Street will nervously open the latest advent calendar window on Tuesday, when MPs are given the first chance to vote on the legislation. Party whips are spending this weekend frantically trying to quell a wider revolt.

The Prime Minister is also facing opposition from One Nation Tory moderates on the other flank

And a Tory source says Braverman and Jenrick 'fought like rats in a sack in the Home Office, constantly wrangling for the limelight and blaming each other when something went wrong'.

One of the Giovanni's plotters is open about wanting to 'crash' Mr Sunak's administration in order to install a new leader before the Election – but admits to having no idea how it will happen or who should take over.

They said: 'Our polling is down to 20 per cent, which is wipeout territory. Even a five per cent bounce from a new leader would save a decent number of seats. [Sunak] can't win on the legislation.'

In an attempt to defuse the mounting, multi-pronged pressure on Mr Sunak's premiership, MPs will only vote on Tuesday on the principle of whether to tighten the law.

One official said: 'If we water it down, the policy won't work as a deterrent; if we make it any harder, the policy will collapse. The plan on the table is the only way to get flights off, it's the only way to deliver on our commitment to stop the boats.'

In an attempt to defuse the mounting, multi-pronged pressure on Mr Sunak's premiership, MPs will only vote on Tuesday on the principle of whether to tighten the law.

They will not have the chance to debate and vote on potentially divisive amendments until the New Year. Ms Braverman denies scheming to bring down Mr Sunak, claiming that she hopes he will lead the party into the next Election.

But there is undoubtedly an ominous coalition of the Right massing against the PM, comprised of the New Conservatives surrounding Ms Braverman

Last week's plotting moved up a gear in the hours after Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled his Rwanda Bill in the Commons, with around three dozen rebel MPs –including Ms Braverman – drinking wine in West Dorset MP Chris Loder's office. 'The mood was jubilant after Rob Jenrick went,' one rebel said. 'All the talk was – what will our next chess move be?'

It comes as speculation continues to swirl over a spring Election. However one senior Tory MP claimed it was a deception operation to panic Labour into depleting its war chest – then calling an Election in November instead.

If Mr Sunak survives, most Tory strategists expect him to wait until November – allowing time for two tax-cutting Budgets – although there is nervousness over the impact of the number of households coming off cheap mortgage deals next year.

Watching, and waiting, are both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

If pushed to name a successor, the plotters grudgingly suggest Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who currently tops the Conservative Home league table charting the popularity of Cabinet Ministers among party members.

But only Boris is deemed to have the potential to arrest the opinion poll doom loop – and, critically, reverse the rise of Mr Farage's Reform party, which is now rating into double figures.


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