Boris Wanted Lockdown Sceptic Ousted from Top Conservative Job: Report

Conservative Party MP Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, leaves Downing Street in London on March 18, 2019. - Britain's government cannot submit its Brexit deal for another vote in parliament if it is "the same" or "substantially the same" to the one already rejected …
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Boris Johnson had wanted Sir Graham Brady ousted as chairman of an influential committee of Conservative MPs over his outspoken objections to the prime minister’s lockdown strategy, a British broadcaster claims.

On Wednesday, Sir Graham fought off challenger Heather Wheeler to hold onto the role of chairman of the 1922 Committee.

MPs speaking anonymously to the Sky News claimed that while ministers were barred from voting in the election, Prime Minister Johnson had certainly wanted Brady removed from the role and replaced by his preferred candidate, Ms Wheeler, because of Brady’s frequent rebellions against the government in parliament and his criticism of Johnson’s coronavirus strategy in the media.

“I think the message has been very, very unofficially put around that the government would like a change and hence the ambitious are listening,” one MP said.

During a parliamentary debate in coronavirus measures in November, Brady had said that what “troubles me most is the government is reaching too far into the private and family lives of our constituents.

“I think there is a perhaps unintended arrogance in assuming the government has the right to do so.”

That same month he had written in the Daily Mail that he would be voting against the regional tier system for restrictions because they would “cause immense further damage to the economy, cripple our civil liberties and worsen the nation’s health.

“In short, they threaten to destroy the social fabric that makes up Great Britain.”

In January, Mr Brady had criticised some of the government’s “pointless restrictions” and “nonsensical interventions”, which he said were “infantilising people”. Earlier this year, he had also compared the government’s ban on British citizens travelling outside of the country to “something the Soviet Union did”.

Government sources speaking to Sky News rejected claims they were involved in the attempted coup. But senior Conservative MPs are also alleged to have named Ben Elliot, the party’s co-chairman and nephew of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as the figure behind the machinations.

The 1922 Committee chairman role is one of the most powerful outside of a Conservative government. Considered the “shop steward” of Conservative MPs, the chairman informs the government if it has lost the support of backbenchers. MPs who do not have government roles and sit on the rear benches in the House of Commons, hence the name.

With the power to oversee the election of party leaders, the ’22’s chairman can be pivotal in making or breaking a political career. A vote of no confidence in the leader of the Tory Party can be triggered if 15 per cent of Conservative MPs write to the 1922 chairman asking for a vote. Sir Graham oversaw the December 2018 attempt to oust Theresa May.

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