PENDLE'S Andrew Stephenson was this morning one of first Conservative MPs to declare his full support for Boris Johnson ahead of tonight's 'no confidence' vote.

At 8.14am, senior Tory Sir Graham Brady announced the Prime Minister would face a secret ballot to decide his immediate future in the job.

The chairman of the party's 1922 Committee of backbenchers revealed 54 of his colleagues had submitted letters calling for a vote.

The result of this evening's ballot will decide whether Mr Johnson is safe from backbench mutiny for 12 months, or whether he will be evicted from 10 Downing Street and a leadership election held to pick a new Prime Minister.

At 8.47am, Mr Stephenson, a transport minister who has held Pendle for the Tories since 2010, tweeted: "The Prime Minister @BorisJohnson, who won a massive mandate from the British people less than three years ago, has my full support in today’s vote.

"He delivered Brexit, delivered on vaccines and has delivered unprecedented #LevellingUp funding for Pendle."

He was soon joined by defence secretary and Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace, who tweeted: "In 2019 Boris won with a majority of 80.

"He has delivered victories in seats we have never held before. On Covid, on Ukraine he has helped deliver a world leading response. He has my full confidence."

This afternoon Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry joined them.

The former Northern Powerhouse Minister tweeted: "@BorisJohnsondelivered Brexit, delivered vaccines and is delivering on #LevellingUp Rossendale & Darwen and the North. I will be supporting the Prime Minister in tonight's vote."

Approached by the Lancashire Telegraph, Ribble Valley MP and House of Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans declined to say how he is planning to vote tonight.

He said: "As deputy speaker I shall not be indicating one way or other how I am going vote.

"I am taking sounding from the members of the party in my constituency."

The Lancashire Telegraph has also approached 2019 intake 'Red Wall' MPs, Hyndburn's Sara Britcliffe, a Parliamentary aide to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, and Burnley's backbencher Antony Higginbotham.

Shortly after 9am Blackpool South MP Scott Benton also tweeted his support for Mr Johnson saying: "Boris is a proven winner. He’s delivered Brexit, got us through Covid and is delivering support to tackle the cost of living.

"Make no mistake, many in the red wall voted specifically for Boris in 2019 - no other Tory leader could reach the parts of the country he has.

"The Prime Minister has my full support. Mistakes in No 10 have been made but there is no doubt that Boris is the best person to face the challenges that lie ahead. I urge colleagues to come together and get behind him."

To force a leadership challenge 180 Tory MPs will have to vote against Mr Johnson but if more than 150 do so he may be forced to resign anyway.

The vote follows intense pressure on Johnson off the back of the Partygate scandal in which he was fined for breaking his own Covid rules as numerous parties were held in Downing Street during lockdowns.

He has also faced pressure over the Government's handling of the cost of living crisis, the countless U-turns his Government has made since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the 'oven-readiness' of his Brexit deal.