New Delhi: UK Conservative MPs are increasingly worried about Boris Johnson’s competence and drive after he gave a rambling speech to business leaders and was accused of losing his grip over a series of key policies from social care to rail, The Guardian reported.
Senior members of his own party said they needed Johnson to get the government back on track after a disastrous two weeks amid dismay about his performance at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, where he lost his place in his speech for about 20 seconds and diverted into a lengthy tangent about Peppa Pig, the report said.
The prime minister was also facing a substantial rebellion over his social care proposals, anger at the decision to scale back rail improvements for the north and frustration over the government’s failure to keep its promises on small boats crossing the Channel.
It caps a difficult fortnight for the prime minister after he admitted he “crashed the car into a ditch” in his handling of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal, the report said.
Nervousness among Tory MPs about No 10 intensified after one Downing Street source told the BBC there was “a lot of concern inside the building about the PM — it’s just not working”, adding that the “cabinet needs to wake up and demand serious changes otherwise it’ll keep getting worse”.
A former cabinet minister also told the Guardian that there was “an accumulation of things building up, really relating to his competence and that is beginning to look very shaky” after a “pretty bad bloody fortnight”.
He said it was unlikely to result in a leadership challenge while the polls were still fairly even between the Tories and Labour, but it could be “problematic for him” if that changes when an election is looming.
Another senior backbencher said Johnson’s CBI speech had been a “mess” while a third Tory MP said: “Someone needs to get a grip. He is losing the confidence of the party.”