Conservative MPs on Monday described the angry reaction of voters they encountered over the Downing Street party scandal, as a new poll found that a significant number of Tory activists believe Boris Johnson should resign.
Tory lawmakers returned to Westminster in a subdued mood after listening to voters and party activists over the weekend after the prime minister admitted on Wednesday that he attended a Downing Street garden party “bring your drink” during a coronavirus quarantine in May 2020. Number 10 also apologized to the Queen on Friday for the No. 10 party ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021.
Grassroots Conservatives, a group representing Tory activists, said 40 percent of its members think Johnson should resign. Ed Costelloe, the group’s chairman, said there was “huge anger” over the scandal.
An public opinion polls he pointed out the damage that the Partygate conflict had done to the Conservative Party’s reputation in public. Redfield and Wilton gave Labor 43 percent on Monday, 13 points ahead of the Tories.
Only a handful of Conservative MPs have publicly called for Johnson to resign, and most Tories have so far decided to wait for a report from Sue Gray, a senior civil servant on Downing Street parties. Johnson’s team hopes her report will not make the prime minister’s position unsustainable.
But one member of the government described his incoming email as a “bucket of shit” of voters and said the dispute proved particularly damaging in prosperous parts of England, which traditionally support Tories such as Oxfordshire, Surrey and Hampshire. “It is proving to be particularly poisonous in the south,” the MP said.
Steve Baker, a former Conservative minister and an influential voice among Tory MPs, said his voters were “60 to one” against Johnson.
But he told the BBC: “I listened very carefully to the members of my association. . . There are very sharp voices in my constituency demanding that I support the Prime Minister. “
Another Tory MP said she was “pretty sure” that more letters of no confidence in Johnson had been delivered to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Conservative Conservative Committee.
She added: “Number 10 hung his hat on Sue Gray’s report. Now it all depends on that. ”
Dominic Cummings, former Johnson General Counsel, alleged on Monday that Johnson lied to parliament about his knowledge of a garden party on Downing Street on May 20, 2020.
Cummings added that he would “swear under oath” that the Prime Minister knew it was fun. Downing Street dismissed the claim, and Johnson told lawmakers last week that he thought it was a “work event.”
Government officials said Johnson is likely to consider a No. 10 alcohol ban after Gray’s report, which is expected to outline a drinking culture in Downing Street.
“It’s not wise to ban drinking,” said one No. 10 official. “Even if it’s too late.”
Government officials said any ban would be announced after the Gray report is released, which is expected either later this week or early next.
Gray is not expected to directly blame Johnson for the Downing Street parties, but many Tory MPs believe the “drinking culture” number 10 came from the top.
Sonia Khan, a former Downing Street assistant, said such a culture has long been “normalized” and that senior officials have used drinks as a way to thank staff for their long working hours.
Khan, who left the government in August 2019, told the BBC: “Drinks could start at lunchtime, could start a little later in the day – different teams do things very differently – but the idea of mini fridges or drinks under your table it was not uncommon. ”