Boris Johnson is set to dare Tory Remainers to topple him from power over No Deal – as one of his closest allies claimed they will balk at putting Jeremy Corbyn in No10.
Treasury minister Liz Truss – tipped by many to become Chancellor if Mr Johnson wins the race for Downing Street – said she did not ‘believe’ rebel MPs would go through with their threats.
Senior Tory figures have been warning a government led by Mr Johnson could be toppled within days, as Labour vows to force an early no-confidence vote.
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis and chief whip Julian Smith are understood to have expressed fears that Mr Johnson would lose, given the wafer-thin working majority of just four.
Those who have signalled they could revolt to stop No Deal include Chancellor Philip Hammond and former attorney general Dominic Grieve – although they are likely to wait until the new PM’s intentions are crystal clear.
Asked today how Mr Johnson would handle that crisis, Miss Truss told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics: ‘I don’t believe in those circumstances colleagues would bring down a Conservative government and let in Jeremy Corbyn, a Marxist.’
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks to Conservative Party members at the Conservative Party leadership hustings in Birmingham today
Boris Johnson ally Liz Truss (pictured in Westminster earlier this month) said she did not ‘believe’ rebel MPs would go through with their threats
If the government loses a confidence vote, there is a 14-day period for either the Tories or Labour to form a new administration and try to win a fresh vote.
Failing that, a General Election is triggered.
No10 has warned party whips that the no-confidence vote could be called as soon as Theresa May leaves office, which is expected to be on July 24.
But the party’s factions show no signs of coming together if Mr Johnson takes over.
Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group have hardened their attitude to Mr Johnson since he appeared to backtrack on his pledge to leave the EU on October 31, ‘deal or no deal’, by saying instead that the date was ’eminently feasible’.
Hardliners told this newspaper that they would have ‘no compunction’ about giving Mr Johnson ‘as much of a kicking as we did to May’ if he shows signs of ‘going soft’ on No Deal, including sending letters of no-confidence to the 1922 Committee.
But Mr Johnson faces an equal threat from the anti-No Deal caucus in his party after former Attorney General Dominic Grieve made a veiled threat yesterday to vote with Labour in a no-confidence motion.
Mr Grieve said: ‘If the new Prime Minister announces taking the country on a magical mystery tour towards an October 31 crash-out, I don’t think that Prime Minister is going to survive very long.
‘Of course, the Prime Minister could exercise his absolute right of then going to the country and having a General Election. But that is likely to be catastrophic for the future of the Conservative Party.’
The arch-Remainer also warned that another Tory leader could be sought if Mr Johnson was unable to get pro-EU MPs to support him.
‘If a Prime Minister insists that they are going to crash us out of the European Union on October 31 with no deal… then I am pretty sure that there are a large number of Conservative MPs who will object to that happening, and who will do everything possible to prevent it happening. I think the numbers are quite substantial.’
A senior Tory source said: ‘Labour have ordered a three-line whip for July 25, so it’s pretty obvious what they are planning. And given the size of our majority, there is every chance that we could lose it.
Asked today how Mr Johnson would handle that crisis, Miss Truss told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics: ‘I don’t believe in those circumstances colleagues would bring down a Conservative government and let in Jeremy Corbyn (pictured yesterday), a Marxist.’
Speaking at a hustings in Birmingham today, Boris Johnson said: ‘We need to get Brexit done… and I am the right man.’
‘The move is coming from Corbyn’s office, although our intelligence is that his whips want to delay it until they are more sure that they can win it.’
If the Conservatives lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, which is expected to be held at the end of the month, the Tories’ majority would fall to just three.
It is being held after 10,005 constituents signed a petition to remove Tory MP Chris Davies, following his conviction for a false expenses claim, first revealed by The Mail on Sunday.
Amid the tussles over a No Deal Brexit, it has emerged that powerful Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill has performed an extraordinary U-turn over the threat of such a withdrawal.
He has told allies of Mr Johnson that ‘with the right leader’ Britain would be able to weather a No Deal, despite orchestrating doom-laden warnings about such a scenario earlier this year.
Explaining the dramatic turnaround, one Government source said: ‘Mark knows which way the wind is blowing.’
Strategists planning Mr Johnson’s first days in office have advised him not to sack Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd – a staunch opponent of No Deal – because they fear that she would become the leader of a ‘No Deal resistance’ on the backbenches.
However, other Cabinet Remainers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark, are resigned to losing their jobs.
Liberal Democrat leadership frontrunner Ed Davey, whose pro-Remain party has benefited from a surge in support since Mrs May delayed Brexit beyond the original March deadline, said: ‘Dominic Grieve is absolutely right that MPs will not accept Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
‘They will vote down a hard- Right, clown of a Prime Minister hooked on a No Deal Brexit forced on the country by 150,000 Conservative members.’