THE authority of Boris Johnson is “draining away” as he is losing support from within the Conservatives, says Peter Kyle.

On Thursday ministers were forced to abandon plans to try to delay a vote on an inquiry into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament in the face of a threatened Tory revolt.

Instead, MPs nodded through an opposition motion referring Mr Johnson to the Commons Privileges Committee.

In an interview with Sky News, the Hove MP said, “if they had the numbers they would have defeated the motion”.

“They actually put forward a wrecking amendment on the day to try and scupper the whole thing, and yet they couldn’t even with a majority of 80 get that through, so they pulled it out last minute,” he said.

“That means there isn’t even enough Tory MPs who believe that Boris Johnson is truthful to actually get them to walk through the lobby to say so.

“You could feel the authority of Boris Johnson and his Government draining away.

“And conversely, when you see the three performances this week of Keir Starmer, and the three performances of Boris Johnson, I think it’s quite clear who is making the running, who is leading right now, and who is leading a party which is unified."

Mr Kyle, the Shadow Northern Ireland secretary, added: “And who has ideas beyond partygate, about how to tackle the challenges in the economy, in public services, and how to tackle crime.”

The Prime Minister said the UK is ready to take measures if necessary to “fix” the deal with the EU governing post-Brexit trading arrangements with Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson claimed the Northern Ireland Protocol “does not command the confidence of a large part” of the population in the province.

His comments come after a government minister issued a fresh warning that the UK could unilaterally suspend elements of Northern Ireland Protocol.

Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns refused to be drawn on a report by the Financial Times that ministers are preparing legislation giving them sweeping powers to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement.

“The protocol really does not command the confidence of a large, large component of the population in Northern Ireland. We have to address that, we have to fix that,” Mr Johnson told a news conference in New Delhi.

“We think we can do it with some very simple and reasonable steps. We have talked repeatedly to our friends and partners in the EU. We will continue to talk to them.

“But as I have said many times now we don’t rule out taking steps now if those are necessary.”

Mr Kyle condemned the reported plan and questioned how Mr Johnson can negotiate a trade deal with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the same time.

He said: “This is absolutely astonishing and incredibly damaging. Boris Johnson negotiated, his team drafted the Northern Ireland Protocol; they presented it to the EU, they negotiated it into the deal.

“It doesn’t work as well as it can do, that’s why the Labour policy is, you build on it, we can improve the protocol, we can smooth it, and we can do so without breaking the law and breaking our international treaty we signed with the EU.

“If we just recklessly pull out of it unilaterally, how will any other country in the world sign a deal with us and think that we will honour it?

“How will prime minister Modi react today when Boris Johnson asks for a trade deal if he is pulling out unilaterally of the last trade deal he signed?”