Boris Johnson seeks to solidify his support among Tory MPs


Boris Johnson will spend this weekend in a bid to bolster his support among Conservative MPs, as the prime minister’s allies have expressed concern that he will soon face a no-confidence vote as a result of the “partygate” scandal.

Downing Street is ready for release next week at report by Senior Civil Servant Sue Gray to the No. 10 parties held during coronavirus isolation, including the “bring your own booze” gathering attended by Johnson in May 2020.

Gray is working on his report over the weekend, with the help of six other government officials, and people familiar with the case said it could not be released until the second half of next week due to the number of people he is talking to.

The mood within Downing Street is said to be “getting darker” regarding the consequences Gray’s report for Johnson, according to government insiders.

One said: “At the heart of the government there is a feeling that Gray will be bad, she will present the facts and the facts will be awkward.” Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment.

Johnson has previously said he thinks the May 2020 gathering at Downing Street Garden is a work event.

Johnson’s allies have said they are increasingly coming to terms with the no-confidence vote, but think the prime minister could win it.

Many Tory MPs have indicated they will not take a final position on whether to be encouraged to vote until they have read Gray’s report.

A total of 54 Conservative MPs must send letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory Committee of 1922, to start the vote. He is believed to have received 30 letters.

“There is a growing sense of inevitability that the letters will go after Gray,” said one minister loyal to Johnson. “But even if they get to 54, Boris will fight and I think we will win.”

Johnson should spend this weekend talking to conservative MPs in an effort to strengthen his position, allies say.

Ministers and MPs who support Johnson also plan to contact fellow Tories in an attempt to allay partygate concerns. One Johnson fan said, “Now it’s up to us to save his career.”

Another MP who supports Johnson said: “People keep in mind that Boris was one of the most popular politicians. . . even if the mark is currently damaged. People in armchairs like mine are still glad they voted for Brexit and they are glad he succeeded. ”

One member of the 1922 executive committee agreed that 54 lawmakers were likely to submit letters to Brady after Gray’s report, but predicted the prime minister would then receive a no-confidence vote.

But other Conservatives have been less optimistic about Johnson’s chances of surviving the vote, in part because some Tories are beginning to focus on the possibility of running for party leadership, which could include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Foreign Minister Liz Truss and former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt.

A Tory official said: “What is the reason we are voting for Boris now? When you have so many groups planning candidacies for leadership, it seems pretty fatal for the prime minister. “

Further revelations about government parties held during the coronavirus restrictions were released on Friday.

The Telegraph reported that the Downing Street party held on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021 continued from seven o’clock to 1 a.m., and included attendees playing on the slide of Wilfred Johnson, the Prime Minister’s son.

Rebel Conservative MPs angry over Johnson’s involvement in the partygate scandal plan to send letters to Brady asking for a no-confidence vote.

One rebel Tory predicted that at least 54 letters would go to Brady. “I’m confident we’ll get there,” he said.

Downing Street, meanwhile, said it was not examining allegations that Johnson’s team was blackmailing rebel conservatives with the intent to overthrow the prime minister.

Labor has called for an investigation after senior Tory William Wragg, who called for Johnson’s resignation, said party parliamentary business managers were threatening to deny funding to parliamentary constituencies.

A Downing Street spokesman said he was unaware of any evidence to substantiate these claims, but “we will look at this very clearly if any evidence emerges to substantiate these claims.”


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