Senior Conservative says local elections will be ‘verdict’ on Boris Johnson’s leadership

A senior Conservative MP has said that the upcoming local elections will be “verdict” on Boris Johnson’s leadership following his fine for breaching Covid rules.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the treasurer of the backbench 1922 Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that before judging the prime minister’s future he wished to to know “all the evidence” on “partygate”, adding that the “verdict” on the matter will be decided by voters in the May 5 local elections

He explained: “I think, as you say, for me personally I would like to see all the evidence, whether there are more fines issued, what Sue Gray has to say and then what the verdict of the British people in the local government elections are before making any decisive judgements.

He also echoed other MPs’ recent comments that war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis meant ousting Johnson was currently not a viable cause, saying: “But at the moment my judgement would be, it is certainly not in the country’s interests to think about replacing the prime minister,”

He argued that: “At a time when thousands of our constituents are facing the biggest squeeze in their cost of living for a generation, when we are facing a bloody war in Europe the like of which we haven’t seen since the Second World War, when we are seeing a slow down of the world economy because of all of that, to force a prime minister out and have instability at the top of government for at least two months as I know… when we re-selected a successor to Theresa May, I think would be not in the country’s interests.”