More than 25 lawmakers have gone public with their letters so far and the Times said party officials and rebel lawmakers believed they were on the verge of the 54 threshold, with one believing the key number had already been passed.

“Officers of the 1922 executive have already pencilled in Wednesday as the day for the leadership vote,” the newspaper reported.

Johnson’s Conservatives are defending two parliamentary seats in by-elections later this month after the sitting lawmakers were forced to resign - one for watching pornography in parliament and the other after being convicted of sexually abusing a boy.

A poll for the paper found the opposition Labour Party was 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in one of these.

Asked if there would be a vote of confidence in Johnson this week, transport minister Grant Shapps told BBC TV: “No I don’t”, saying governments often suffered poor polling in mid-term.

He said Johnson would win any vote.

Johnson has repeatedly apologised for his conduct after an official report found both he and Downing Street officials broke stringent laws that his government made during the pandemic, holding alcohol-fuelled gatherings at the height of lockdowns.

He was jeered by the public when he arrived at a service of thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth on Friday.

Johnson has said he will not resign because there are too many challenges facing the government and it would not be responsible to walk away.

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