MPs will return to Westminster on Monday, amid continuing speculation about a possible vote of confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Some Tory MPs have told the BBC such a ballot could be triggered this week, as the prime minister continues to face calls to resign over lockdown parties.
On Sunday ministers publicly backed the PM to win a vote, should one be called.
Business minister Paul Scully told Channel 4 that a vote “may well” happen – but Mr Johnson “will face it down”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also told the BBC the prime minister would not lose a confidence vote among his own MPs.
In the 10 days since MPs returned to their constituencies for the half term break, speculation has swirled about whether Mr Johnson will face an internal electoral battle to save his premiership.
For a confidence ballot to be triggered, 54 Tory MPs must formally put in a letter to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, asking for one.
So far 28 Conservative MPs have publicly called on Boris Johnson to step down. But some Conservative MPs have privately told the BBC they believe the threshold for triggering a vote could happen in the coming week.
On Sunday, both Mr Shapps and Mr Scully shrugged off crowds booing the PM at the Jubilee thanksgiving service, with Mr Shapps saying politicians didn’t expect to be “popular all the time”.
Mr Scully told Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show politicians had been “booed through time immemorial”.
He added: “We may well have a vote of confidence. If it does happen, the prime minister, I know, will face it down.
“But whatever happens, we’ve got to get back to governing, to tackle the things that people want us to do on a day-to-day basis, not continuing… to look back at two years previous.”
“I begin to wonder if the Tory party has a death wish.” So says a senior supporter of Boris Johnson.
“Either we get rid of him or the electorate will get rid of us,” says a Conservative MP who wants him out.
After four days of bunting, union flags, Paddington Bear and Jason Donovan, yes – that is the sound of the clunk and clatter of politics returning.
Resuming again, a festival of guesswork to rival any fete or pageant, all focused on the prime minister’s future.
I am struck by a couple of things:
Firstly, speaking to Mr Johnson’s greatest supporters, his biggest critics, and those somewhere in between, there is a collective gloom within the Conservative Party. A feeling they are in a spot it will be hard to get out of in one piece.
And secondly, very few within the Conservative parliamentary party would be remotely surprised if a vote of confidence happens this week.
But that doesn’t mean one definitely will.