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Boris Johnson has been warned failure to secure a good Brexit deal safeguarding the sovereignty of the UK at the end of the transition period could cost him his job. Former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart insisted Brexiteer MPs will jump ship and bring the Prime Minister down should their plans for a hard withdrawal from the European Union be betrayed. Speaking to ITV News, Mr Stewart said: “Absolutely critical to him will be the next great challenge he faces, which is Brexit.
“Remember his core support basis was always around getting Brexit done. It is the rightwing of the party, the ERG faction, that he cannot afford to lose.
“If he loses those people, if they decide he has signed a Brexit deal which doesn’t respect sovereignty, for example, he’s really toast.
“They brought him in purely because they thought he could be the person who could do that.”
However, Mr Stewart also suggested Mr Johnson could push for an even harder Brexit, one without a trade deal with the European Union, to appeal to his base and cling to Number 10.
He added: “If he doesn’t get that right, and that’s a reason to be worried…if you’re like me, and you’re worried about a no deal Brexit, is that he will be very tempted to do a much harder Brexit than he needs to keep those people on his side because his position is weak.”
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A former member of the Government suggested in September a trade deal with Brussels could still mark the end of Mr Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister.
George Walden, who served as Minister for Higher Education between 1985 and 1987, said: “What’s going to happen now, because we’re in such a dire situation, because there’s no question of having no deal – in the middle of a pandemic that would be lunacy – therefore we’re going to have a deal.
“And rather like Trump, Johnson is going to say it’s the greatest deal ever. We have to go through with this and suffer the consequences.
“My hope is that he will perhaps fade away himself quite soon and we get a proper leader and a proper Cabinet.”
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But with the Government facing renewed backlash over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, political analysts have suggested leading Conservatives are unlikely to challenge Mr Johnson before both Brexit and Covid have passed.
While the Prime Minister is likely to serve the full five-year term, the party could choose another candidate to lead them once the political and social situations have calmed down to have a better chance of winning the 2024 elections.
Political commentator Benedict Spence told talkRADIO last month: “Frankly, Boris Johnson, I don’t think he’s going to stand at the next general election even if he wanted to.
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“And I don’t think he wants to. If you already know that vacancy is going to come up in a few years’ time, why on Earth would you push for that change now if you’re an ambitious Conservative
“Because you can’t win if you become Prime Minister right now and you’re the one who has to reverse everything while we’re in the midst of a pandemic.
“I think we have to come to the end of that before we see any serious change.”
Mr Spence added: “If you’ve already got a human shield, a Prime Minister who will fulfil that role in Number 10, why would anybody want to step unto the breach right now? In what is an even worse political situation.”
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