Allies of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson closed ranks on Thursday after a day of high drama prompted second thoughts among some Conservatives about dethroning their embattled leader. One anti-Johnson plot by younger Tory MPs, livid at breaches of lockdowns by partying Downing Street staff, appeared to be fizzling out despite one senior backbencher telling him to his face to quit, “in the name of God”. Wednesday’s defection of Conservative Christian Wakeford to Labour served as a reminder of the high stakes at play, with the opposition party surging in opinion polls. “The prime minister is probably thanking Christian for what he did because it’s made a lot of people think again, think twice,” Tory MP Andrew Percy told BBC radio. “It’s kind of made people a bit more relaxed, it’s calmed nerves,” he said. “I think people have recognised that actually this constant navel-gazing and internal debating is only to the advantage of our political opponents.” Before Wakeford’s defection, the plotters appeared confident that they were close to the 54 letters needed to force a no-confidence vote in Johnson by Conservative MPs.