Tory MPs have set up a phone messaging group to carry out secret plotting to install Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as party leader.
Members of the WhatsApp group – which is called 'Liz for Leader' and dominated by new MPs from the Red Wall seats formerly held by Labour – have been exhorting colleagues to rebel against Boris Johnson on issues such as the Government's social care reforms and the Prime Minister's doomed decision to defend Owen Paterson over sleaze allegations.
Mr Johnson's recent political difficulties have seen his approval ratings tumble – while Ms Truss remains the darling of Tory Party members, who will be instrumental in electing the next leader.
A source said: 'The 2019 intake, particularly the Red Wallers, are disenchanted with Boris, especially over migrants and high taxes.
Tory MPs mostly from Red Wall seats have set up a phone messaging group called 'Liz for Leader' to carry out secret plotting to install Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as party leader
'They don't think he has a Right-wing bone in his body and believe Liz would be more faithful to traditional Conservative values.'
It comes after Ms Truss removed a key aide over claims that he had been 'aggressively' agitating for her to succeed Mr Johnson by sounding out colleagues about her chances.
Her parliamentary private secretary, Bim Afolami, who earlier this month wrote that Mr Johnson's Government was 'close to losing the benefit of the doubt', will now work in the same capacity for Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
Members of the group have been exhorting colleagues to rebel against Boris Johnson on issues such as the Government's social care reforms
Mr Afolami strongly denies claims that he had been agitating for Ms Truss. John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, is expected to replace him.
As Mr Johnson's fortunes have dipped, party whips have been keeping an increasingly close eye on MPs and advisers around Ms Truss, looking for signs of an incipient leadership bid and 'blue on blue' actions against her main rival, Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
In his article for the Conservative Home website, Mr Afolami wrote: 'The danger of this political moment is that the Conservative Government may be close to losing a very precious thing – the benefit of the doubt.
'I don't know for how long this will be the case, but I do not believe that our fall in poll support to the mid-30s will be temporary, nor is it just about this 'sleaze' issue.'