Could Tory plot tempt Sunak into early general election?

Politics

It is more likely to fail than succeed, the plotters behind the attempt to oust Rishi Sunak believe.

The most likely outcome of all the conversations, scheming and briefing is that the Tories go down to an even bigger defeat than they otherwise would have done when the election finally comes.

Yet, the handful of ex-advisers and MPs looking at an unprecedented third change of leader in this parliament say they believe that the risk is worth it.

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The plot – led by a group without a name or headquarters, some of whom aren’t being paid and some of whom have never met one another – gained shape on Tuesday night thanks to Downing Street.

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Rishi Sunak talks to Joe Biden in 10 Downing Street
Pic: No 10 Downing Street
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Pic: Downing Street

In an effort to flush out the enemy, allies of Mr Sunak named Will Dry, who was head of polling in Number 10 until six weeks ago, as one of those involved.

Instead of unnerving the 25-year-old – who is described as Cummings-esque by former colleagues – he went on the attack and blasted the PM for a lack of direction, confirming he was trying to change the leader.

This extraordinary sequence of events proved the existence of the movement.

Other names of those involved are expected to leak within days, though no one has yet leaked the name of the donor who funded the devastating big money poll that suggests the Tories face being wiped out at the election and Labour will get a 120-seat majority.

Will Dry speaking to Sky News in 2019. The former remain campaigner went on to work for Rishi Sunak in Number 10 as a special adviser.
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Will Dry was named as a plotter by Number 10. Pic: Sky News

Those involved insist it is MP-led, yet most MPs – who are critical of ousting another PM – are not on board yet, and may never be.

They repeat that to change from Mr Sunak after changing twice already would be insane.

The plotters believe more will come round to their view, however.

They argue Mr Sunak is consistently underwhelming, that he will potentially lose by-elections and local election races and does not have the touch to turn things around.

Some are skilled at briefing the papers, disrupting Number 10’s attempts to take back control of events.


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There is no single name they agree on as a replacement, with Suella Braverman, Robert Jenrick and Penny Mordaunt all having their drawbacks.

So Mr Sunak faces 11 months of attrition from his own side, potentially meaning things get worse the longer he leaves the election.

Could this tempt him to reconsider and go to the country in May after all?

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