Boris Johnson On 'Great Form' Insists Cabinet Minister Amid Calls For Leadership Challenge

A hunt has also been launched for the mole dubbed "Chatty Pig" who branded the prime minister's CBI speech "shambolic".
Wednesday looks set to be another difficult day for Downing Street
Wednesday looks set to be another difficult day for Downing Street
HuffPost UK

The deputy prime minister today insisted Boris Johnson is on “great form” amid claims some fed-up Tory MPs are demanding a leadership challenge.

Dominic Raab defended Johnson on another difficult day for No10, describing him as an “ebullient, bouncy, optimistic, Tiggerish” character.

It comes after the prime minister’s rambling “Peppa Pig” address to the Confederation of British Industry went viral.

A hunt has been launched for the mole who branded it “shambolic” to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg - with fingers being pointed at the Treasury as the source.

Meanwhile, Johnson faces another tough day in Westminster amid claims that a dozen MPs now want to trigger a leadership challenge to oust him.

A “flurry” of Tories who are angry over sleaze and the social care cap have apparently written to the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, according to The Sun.

Asked about the CBI speech, justice secretary Raab told BBC Breakfast: “The prime minister is on great form. The reality is people speak about speeches in the Westminster village, the gossip and all the rest of it.

“It’s the job of Westminster commentators to pick up on one anonymous source from wherever they found it to criticise the Government of the day, that’s fine.”

He insisted the PM is “focused on the job at hand” and described Johnson as a “Tiggerish” character who livens up his speeches in a way that few politicians do.

Raab went on to dismiss suggestions that Tory backbenchers were writing letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee to demand a leadership challenge.

He told LBC radio: “There is the usual Westminster tittle tattle and I’m not aware of that.”

A senior Tory MP quoted in The Sun described Johnson as being like Jose Mourinho: “He was good a decade ago and his powers have been fading ever since.

“Yes he won an election, but a bowl of soup could have beaten Jeremy Corbyn.

“There is real anger. He has until Spring to get back on track or he will be in real trouble. Letters have gone in. I am on the cusp myself.”

Tories can trigger a leadership challenge if 15 per cent of them - around 54 MPs - write letters to Brady demanding one.

A Tory whip told The Telegraph: “There is an assumption someone has put in a letter. The rumour is persistently around. It will not get anywhere near the 50 letters you would need, but it does cause angst.”

The PM’s official spokesman sought to minimise the fallout from Monday’s events, saying he “briefly” lost his place in the speech.

The spokesman added: “He has given hundreds of speeches. I don’t think it’s unusual for people on rare occasions to lose their place in a speech.”