Suella Braverman told Boris Johnson to expel “disloyal” Tory MPs during a recent Zoom call, sources say.
The meeting took place days after former Brexit minister Steve Baker told Johnson “the gig is up.”
Some Tories believe that controversial new Brexit legislation could be used as a measure of confidence.
The UK’s attorney general called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to expel from the Conservative Party MPs who have been “disloyal” to him, sources told Insider.
Suella Braverman called on Johnson to withdraw the whip from rebellious MPs in a recent Zoom meeting with the so-called “support group” of MPs supporting the prime minister, one backbench attendee said. All sources were granted anonymity to speak frankly.
The meeting took place days after former Brexit minister Steve Baker told Johnson “the gig is up” and former chief whip Mark Harper submitted a letter of no confidence, ratcheting up the pressure on his leadership once again, the backbencher and another source who is familiar with the call confirmed.
“Suella was frustrated by how disloyal people are to the PM — in her eyes they owe their seats to him,” the backbencher said.
“Suella was very much on the ‘kick these people out of the party’ position … What she said was ‘is there more that we can to enforce party discipline?'”
Johnson told the group he preferred to “keep people on-side by doing as much friendly outreach as possible,” he added.
“It is not a sensible position for the PM to threaten people,” he said. “His approach is kill them with kindness.”
However, another senior Tory source told Insider that Johnson backed such a move as “a bit of retribution.” The same MP said it would be “meaningless” if there were no prospect of an election in the coming months.
In September 2019, Johnson expelled 21 Conservative MPs — destroying his already fragile majority — after they rebelled against plans to allow a no-deal Brexit.
When asked about such a move, a senior 10 Downing Street figure told Insider it was “possible,” noting: “We have a 70-seat majority.”
Sources suggested that a trigger for the expulsions could be a widely anticipated piece of legislation that would end checks on goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland — effectively ripping up the protocol.
One backbencher said such a vote would be seen as a confidence issue and legitimise threats of suspension.
Another pro-Brexit MP told Insider that Number 10 had appeared “quite receptive” to the idea of such legislation, which would “supersede” the existing agreement.
An MP who backed Remain said they expected Johnson to bring forward a new law they branded as “unilateral UKIM on acid,” referring to the UK Internal Market Bill, as he looks to regain his standing among Leavers.
The highly controversial UK Internal Market Bill — which Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted would break international law “in a very specific and limited way” — was given the legal backing of Braverman. Although it passed, some 30 Tory backbenchers, including former ministers, abstained.
MPs believe the bill could be announced in next week’s Queen’s Speech, although one well-placed source said he had been told to “expect something to follow soon after that.”
The Number 10 source declined to comment on specifics, but stressed any move on Irish Sea border checks was “about the UK.”
The attorney general’s spokesman declined to comment. Downing Street did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
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