Could Rishi Sunak be facing a vote of no-confidence this week?

This is the week that Tory rebels have been waiting for.

Rishi Sunak

This is the week that Tory rebels have been waiting for. A chance to build momentum in a bid to oust Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who far from being an electoral asset has become an electoral liability for the party.

The May 2nd local elections will be a defining moment for Sunak’s leadership. With a slow drip of no-confidence letters already being submitted to the backbench 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, Tory plotters have warned Sunak that an awful set of results this Thursday in which 2,600 council seats are up for grabs as well as crucial mayoralties, would trigger more letters being submitted. 52 no-confidence letters would trigger a leadership challenge.

What would a bad set of results look like?

“If we lose 500 seats and both the mayoralties, he’s in trouble,” one Tory grandee has told the Financial Times. A former cabinet member added: “If that happens, there will be a confidence vote. He’d survive, but he’d be seriously weakened.”

Earlier this month, election experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, predicted that the Conservative Party could be set to lose 500 council seats in the upcoming local elections on May 2nd. That’s half of the party’s councillors facing election.

To make matters worse for Sunak, should the Tories lose two crucial mayoralties — West Midlands and Tees Valley, then it’s hard to see how Sunak could go on. Both areas are currently being represented by high-profile Tory mayors and are being heavily targeted by the Labour Party.

Andy Street is the high-profile Mayor of the West Midlands and has been in power since May 2017. Street has in recent weeks sought to distance himself from his party leadership, saying that he was campaigning on ‘Brand Andy’.

A Tory association chair in the West Midlands told the i that they were pessimistic about the result: “I think it is going to be really close. I think if it had not been for the fact [Andy Street] has got the blue flag next to his name he would have probably walked it, but people are associating him with the Conservative Party and he could lose it as a result, yet he has done wonders for the region.”

Tees Valley is also a closely fought contest and is being represented by Tory mayor Lord Ben Houchen. The previous Tory victories in the West Midlands and the Tees Valley were seen as significant in demonstrating a shift in political allegiances and increasing Tory support among voters who wouldn’t usually have voted Tory.

Should the Tories lose both contests it will be a sign for Tory rebels that Sunak is way more of an electoral liability than initially thought.

The Times reports that a cabal of Tory MPs and former aides from across the party are plotting Sunak’s downfall back in Westminster. Rebel plans came to light over the weekend for a “100-day policy blitz” under a new Tory PM, which includes cutting legal migration, increasing defence spending and a benefits crackdown as part of their five-point plan to turnaround the Tory party’s fortunes.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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