A Conservative MP has become the first to break ranks and call for Boris Johnson to go if he fails to obtain a trade deal with the European Union.
Sir Roger Gale, who has been MP for North Thanet in Kent since 1983, tweeted that if the prime minister failed to negotiate an "acceptable trade agreement with the EU" then he would have failed the British people and his position would "untenable."
— Sir Roger Gale MP (@SirRogerGale) December 14, 2020
Gale, 77, went on to say Mr Johnson would have to step aside and allow someone else to become Conservative Party leader, someone who could "pick up the pieces", reunite the country and "show the leadership" it deserved.
The European Commission said it was "fully dedicated" to negotiating a deal with the UK before the transition period ends on 31 December, but at the weekend Mr Johnson warned his government was prepared for a no-deal if it did not get the terms it wanted from Brussels.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) December 14, 2020
The commission’s spokesman Daniel Ferrie said on Monday, 14 December: "We're of course aware that time is short. The more time that goes by the less likely it is that we will have a deal in place on the first of January, that's just a statement of fact.”
Mr Ferrie added: "I cannot say what may or may not happen over these days. But what I can say, though, is that we are fully dedicated to trying to reach a deal with the UK."
— Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman) December 13, 2020
It is thought the 59 Tory MPs who make up the European Research Group, have been pressuring Mr Johnson not to accept a deal which would make it difficult for Britain to set up free trade deals with the United States and other countries.
Mr Johnson and EU chief Ursula van der Leyen said on Sunday, 13 December, they would "go the extra mile" to reach an agreement.
— Matthew Payne (@Matthew82069336) December 14, 2020
But Mr Johnson said it remained "most likely" Britain would exit the world's biggest single market on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
If Mr Johnson was forced to face a leadership challenge, it would almost certainly come from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.