THE mood among Tory MPs is turning against Boris Johnson and he will face a leadership challenge at some stage, a senior Conservative has predicted.

Baron Hayward, a former Tory MP and polling expert, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that in the last few weeks support for the Prime Minister within the party has been “eroded quite markedly” – despite the limited number of public calls for his resignation following the partygate scandal.

The Tory peer said the impact of the Sue Gray report, Met fines and further investigations are proving to be “death by a thousand cuts” for the Conservative leader.

READ MORE: Sky News: Boris Johnson gets rattled in tense interview with Beth Rigby

Hayward’s analysis has often proved to be correct – having correctly predicted the result of the 1992 General Election, and exposing that Labour support had been over-estimated in the polls ahead of the 2015 vote. In addition, he correctly forecast the result of the Brexit referendum.

Speaking to the radio show on Friday afternoon, Hayward said: “We are moving to a position, despite what the Prime Minister said … that Tory MPs, Tory associations, Tory councillors, do not want an even more protracted process.

“We’ve had it basically since before Christmas now. And I expect that there will be some form of contest for leadership at some stage, not immediately, but the support for the Prime Minister is being eroded quite markedly and has been since the recess.

“I think if one looks forward there is the decision of the police in relation to future fines, possibly, more investigations, you’ve got the Sue Gray report and then you would have the Privileges Committee. And this would be death by a thousand cuts, and what clearly the Conservative Party, not just the MPs but particularly the MPs, are saying is they don’t want that. And they’re moving more towards a position where this matter has to be resolved.”

Asked whether Johnson is headed towards “political death”, the peer said yes.

“I expect there to be a challenge to his leadership in some form or another,” he reiterated. “The only thing that I can see that might cause a delay would be the fact that there isn’t a clear alternative and MPs are looking around, and senior members of the party, in one form or another. They won’t necessarily admit it but that is the reality. I think everybody in the party has moved one stage more to the sceptical side, to the critical side, than was the case only a few weeks ago.”

Pressed to predict the timing of a leadership challenge, Hayward was less certain. Weighing up the various investigations into Johnson, plus the upcoming local elections and Wakefield by-election, he suggested it would not be immediate – but that these issues would all be “potential cuts on the backs of Tory MPs”.

“I think they’re moving to a position, from wherever they started, to a position of saying this cannot go on and there is only one way of resolving that and that is by saying we will need some form of challenge, leadership election, whatever it may be,” he explained.

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay said it was clear that "bumbling clown" Johnson was "not fit" for his position.

“I sincerely hope the lawbreaking Prime Minister exits office as soon as possible," she told The National. "As long as we remain locked in the UK the risk is that he’s simply replaced with another out of touch Tory that Scotland didn’t vote for. That’s why Scotland must take our future into our own hands.” 

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in New Dehli on Friday, Johnson swerved a question about whether the British public were wrong to care about partygate, saying the public will be interested in “jobs and growth” in the UK and a move towards wind power.

When posed the question the Prime Minister said: “I think that what people want in our country is for the Government to get on and focus on the issues on which we were elected, and that’s what we’re going to do.

The National:

“I think they’ll be particularly interested in jobs, growth in the UK – a memorandum of understanding for instance, today, on wind power, gigantic ambitions for more and more wind energy, both of us, not just offshore wind but floating platforms.

“We want to work together to produce substantial quantities of new wind power, which will enable us to produce more energy for our people together in a very short time.

“That strikes me as being a reasonable thing for the Government of the UK to focus on; that is what we are focused on.”

Elsewhere, allies of Johnson lashed out at Tory MPs calling for the Prime Minister to resign after the House of Commons ordered a third inquiry into lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Senior backbencher Tobias Ellwood said there had been “a huge breach of trust” with the British people as he called on Conservative MPs to force a change of leadership.

But that drew a furious accusation of disloyalty from Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns, who said there is “no question” of the Prime Minister stepping down.

He said Johnson is entitled to their support after leading them to a sweeping general election victory in 2019.