BORIS Johnson is to be grilled by MPs for the first time since he survived a bruising vote of no confidence from his own parliamentarians.

Tensions in the Conservative Party are running high after 40% of Tory MPs rebelled against the Prime Minister – prompting his allies to suggest a shock move to appoint his chief rival to the Cabinet.

Although Johnson survived, by 211 votes to 148, critics warned that he had been severely wounded by the scale of the rebellion and could be gone before the end of the year. He will face MPs at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday afternoon.

While it was the Sue Gray report into lockdown parties in Downing Street which prompted the no-confidence vote, it also revealed deep unhappiness among MPs on different wings of the party across a range of issues.

They include promised legislation to override the Northern Ireland Protocol with the EU, as well as concerns over the high levels of tax and spend amid reports that rebel MPs could start staging “vote strikes” on policies they oppose.

After Johnson insisted on Tuesday it remained a “fundamental Conservative instinct” to cut taxes, Chancellor Rishi Sunak used a speech to the Onward think tank to reaffirm his intention to reduce taxes for business in the autumn.

It followed a call from former Brexit minister Lord Frost for previously announced rises to national insurance and corporation tax to be reversed, warning they were “not Conservative” and were “undermining growth and prosperity”.

His view that the UK Government needs to move on to a tax-cutting agenda in order to shore up Johnson’s leadership is reportedly shared by some in the Cabinet.

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Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reported that allies of the Prime Minister were urging him to replace Sunak with former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt – who was runner-up to Johnson in the 2019 leadership election and is expected to stand again if there is another contest – infuriated some in the Cabinet when he announced he would be voting for “change” in the confidence vote.

However, the Telegraph said proponents of the idea argue that bringing back his rival into the Cabinet would help stabilise Johnson’s leadership, heal rifts within the party while binding Hunt to the Prime Minister’s agenda.

The National: Jeremy Hunt

Under current party rules, Johnson is safe now from another formal confidence vote, although the backbench 1922 Committee could potentially rewrite the regulations if there is renewed pressure for change.

Former YouGov president Peter Kellner seemingly suggested the rules should be changed so ministers and their aides could not take part in confidence votes.

“The 1922 Committee exists to represent Tory backbenchers. Suppose it had done so this week,” he wrote in a letter to the editor of The Times.

“It would have honoured the electorate’s wish to depose Johnson, the need for effective government and the electoral interests of the Conservative Party — had its rules allowed it to bar ministers and their aides from taking part in Monday’s vote.

“Johnson would be out, as should any party leader who cannot retain the loyalty of their backbenchers.”

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At the moment, there would appear to be no appetite among the rebels for another immediate move against the Prime Minister.

However, he has two tricky by-elections coming up in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and in Tiverton and Honiton, Devon, amid warnings they could fall to the Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively.

Such a double defeat could be the catalyst for a fresh bout of soul-searching within the party, leading to renewed demands for change at the top.

Despite the speculation, one Cabinet ally – Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng – said he was “pretty confident” that Johnson would still lead them into the next general election.

“I’m pretty confident he will but lots of things happen in politics, I’m 100% behind him,” he told Channel 4 News on Tuesday.

“As far as this particular Prime Minister is concerned, he has been written off dozens of times. He’s somebody who’s extremely resilient and is extremely focused on delivering what matters to people.”

The Prime Minister’s suitability for the role was questioned by former Spectator colleague Petronella Wyatt – in 2004, Johnson was sacked from the Tory frontbench for lying about an affair with her.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain the questions over his leadership would be difficult for him as he is “surprisingly thin-skinned” and “has a very soft core – I think this will be absolute hell for him in private”.

She added: “The qualities that made him a very good journalist and also a TV personality are not the qualities you need in a Prime Minister because it’s a hard slog, and he never liked detail.

“I wouldn’t say he was lazy, but being PM does involve a 14-hour day which isn’t really him.”