Tories brace for ‘inevitable’ Boris coup bid as ‘FIVE MORE’ MPs mull no-confidence letters with fears PM faces £12,000 Partygate fine and anger at Savile ‘slur’ on Starmer – but he vows to stay until 2030 and ministers slam revolt amid Ukraine crisis
- Number of Tories confirming no-confidence letters in the PM has now risen to seven with more privately
- Two Devon MPs have formed part of a trio demanding that Boris Johnson quit over the Partygate scandal
- Sir Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall and Tobias Ellwood are submitting letters of no confidence in the PM
- Mr Johnson accused of attending six of the Downing Street parties currently being investigated by police
Tories are bracing for an ‘inevitable’ challenge to Boris Johnson as more MPs mull putting in no-confidence letters today – despite the PM vowing to stay in No10 until 2030.
Mr Johnson is still being buffeted by the Partygate storm with warnings that he could face £12,000 in fines if police find he broke lockdown rules by attending six Downing Street bashes.
The premier has voiced defiance insisting he has a ‘lot more to do’, will fight the next election and wants to be in power until the end of the decade.
However, worryingly for Mr Johnson the Conservative anger at him has been breaking through into open opposition, with three more MPs announcing they have written to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady in just 24 hours.
Sir Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall and Tobias Ellwood all went public with calls for a no confidence vote in what was dubbed the ‘Cream Tea Plot’ as two are Devon MPs.
Mr Johnson’s ‘slur’ about Keir Starmer failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile – as he scrambled to distract attention from his own woes – seems to have further infuriated many on his own benches with swipes that he is a ‘pound shop Trump’.
It takes the number of Tory MPs who have declared sending letters to seven – although the true figure is thought to be several times that as most do not reveal their intentions.
Another five MPs, including members of the government, are considering submitting letters, according to The Times, although it is not known if they will announce doing so.
A formal confidence vote is triggered if Sir Graham receives 54 letters, equivalent to 15 per cent of the parliamentary party, with MPs increasingly regarding that as ‘inevitable’ in the coming months. However, he keeps the figures a closely-guarded secret until that threshold is hit.
Fourteen Tories have now called for Mr Johnson to quit, although some either have not put in letters or refuse to say.
In a round of interviews this morning, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly insisted the PM is focused on ‘delivery’ – and suggested Tories should not be staging a revolt when Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine.
‘When you have got a situation like that it’s not smart to self-impose an internal disagreement in the party of government, a protracted leadership campaign, which is what we would be doing,’ he told Times Radio.
‘But the reason we should support the Prime Minister – and I’ve worked with him for over a decade – is he has got a track record of delivery.’
Mr Cleverly pointed to Mr Johnson’s record, including securing the UK’s exit from the European Union and achieving a landslide election win for the Tories.
‘This is his record in Government, this is why I’m supporting him and this is why we should stay focused on what people gave us that 80-seat majority to do, which is to level up, protect the country, protect jobs, protect the economy, and that’s what we are doing.’
Meanwhile, trade minister Penny Mordaunt blasted the ‘stupidity’ of the current leadership in a letter to a constituent, in one of the most senior members of the government to hit out at Mr Johnson.
Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries dismissed the rebels as a ‘handful of egos’ who ‘want to make it all about them’.
The Culture Secretary said: ‘The defining mission of the PM and this government is to level up the whole of the UK. On the very day we are setting out steps to make this happen, a handful of egos want to make it all about them. It’s selfish, doing Labour’s work and it’s really not helping their constituents.’
DOWNING Street feared last night that a co-ordinated plot was trying to bring down Boris Johnson after a string of Tory MPs went public in calling for him to resign
Tobias Ellwood (pictured), who has himself been accused of attending a lockdown-busting party, was the first to break cover in the new plot
Sir Gary Streeter (right) and Anthony Mangnall (left) revealed that they were submitting letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership
Downing Street had hoped that the publication of Sue Gray’s updated Partygate findings on Monday would allow the PM to move on from the row as the Government battles crises over energy bills, the cost of living and Ukraine.
However, on Tuesday, Tory MP Peter Aldous announced he had submitted a letter calling for the PM to resign, while Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said there was so much anger over what happened that Mr Johnson should consider whether the country could heal better if he left No 10.
They were followed by the three MPs yesterday in what threatens to become a drip-drip of opposition to the PM.
Which Tory MPs have called for a confidence vote in the PM?
PUBLICLY CONFIRMED SENDING LETTER
CALLED FOR THE PM TO QUIT BUT NOT CONFIRMED SENDING LETTERS
THOUGHT TO HAVE SENT LETTERS
Mr Ellwood, who has himself been accused of attending a lockdown-busting party, was the first to break cover yesterday.
The former minister, who chairs the Commons defence committee, hit out at the ‘horrible’ situation of having to ‘continuously… defend’ Mr Johnson to the British public.
Appearing on Sky News just before 9am, Mr Ellwood suggested Mr Johnson should ‘take a grip’ of the situation and call a vote of confidence in himself.
Mr Mangnall, who represents Totnes, joined the revolt shortly before 3pm. The 2019-intake MP tweeted: ‘Standards in public life matter. At this time I can no longer support the PM. His actions and mistruths are overshadowing the extraordinary work of so many excellent ministers and colleagues.’
Then at 5pm on the dot, longstanding MP Sir Gary revealed he had also submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson.
‘I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street,’ he said.
Senior party sources last night dubbed the effort to remove Mr Johnson as the ‘Cream Tea Coup’ because Sir Gary and Mr Mangnall are both Devon MPs.
A Downing Street insider conceded they feared the push to oust Mr Johnson was being coordinated, but they played down the significance of the three letters being submitted yesterday, saying none of the trio was a ‘big surprise’.
The Daily Mail revealed in December 2020 that Mr Ellwood attended a Christmas dinner for 27 guests at a London club.
The Iraq Britain Business Council described the event at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly on its website as its ‘Christmas Party’. But Mr Ellwood, who gave a speech, insisted it was a ‘business meeting’ that was allowed under the tier two restrictions that applied at the time.
An attempt by MPs in the 2019 intake to unseat the PM last month was nicknamed the Pork Pie Plot because of the involvement of Alicia Kearns, who represents Melton Mowbray.
Meanwhile, Ms Morduant, the former defence secretary who is considered a dark horse in a potential leadership challenge, told a member of the public she wants assurances about the ‘competence and integrity’ of Downing Street, it was revealed.
She wrote in a letter seen by The Guardian: ‘Like you I am shocked at the stupidity of what has taken place against a backdrop of sacrifice and discipline from the country.
‘As well as the issues Gray is looking at, I want to be assured of proper oversight, competence and integrity in how Downing Street is operating. It is critical to a functioning government and the trust of the public.’
The alleged coup came as a poll found that almost two thirds of voters (61 per cent) think Mr Johnson should resign over Partygate.
Some 78 per cent want Miss Gray’s report on the scandal to be published in full, according to surveys carried out by J L Partners. Four in five Britons believe the PM ‘broke the coronavirus regulations with parties in Downing Street’.
More than half (55 per cent) of the 2,000 respondents said the investigation into the Downing Street parties should continue, while 36 per cent believed the country must now move on from the allegations.
Despite the ousting plot, Mr Johnson is vowing he will fight on, insisting he will stay until the next election.
He told The Sun: ‘I am getting on with the job and I will do so for as long as I have the privilege and honour to serve in this position.’
But asked how he has plummeted in the polls, he dodged the question and said he is only focused on the next election.
He blasted: ‘I am focussed not on my critics, I won’t accept criticism from the Labour party or anywhere else.
‘My job is to get on with what the public elected ME to do, the best answer to any criticism is to deliver.’
The walls narrowed on the PM yesterday with claims he was seen heading for a ‘Winner Takes It All’ Abba party thrown in his Downing Street flat to celebrate the fall of Dominic Cummings.
Mr Johnson has also been accused of attending a Prosecco-fuelled leaving party in No10 while the country was in the midst of the strict post-Christmas lockdown.
Sir Keir goaded Mr Johnson about the crisis at PMQs yesterday, while he condemned the lack of action to ease the cost of living pain for households.
‘The Prime Minister might want to sharpen how he answers questions under interview – he’s going to need it in the next few weeks,’ the Labour leader said.
Totnes and South Devon MP Anthony Mangnall lashed out at the PM’s ‘mistruths’ as he declared he is submitting a letter to 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady
Tobias Ellwood (right) has become the latest Tory to confirm he is sending a letter of no confidence in the PM. The PM’s swipe at Keir Starmer (left) for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile has angered many Tories who view it as a ‘slur’
Mr Johnson’s ‘slur’ in the Commons on Monday that Sir Keir had failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile seems to have heightened anger, with Conservative MP Simon Hoare among those demanding the premier retracts it.
One former minister told MailOnline that many were now convinced that Mr Johnson cannot change.
‘The lawyers in the party say he is incorrect,’ the MP said. ‘I understand they practised this in No10 and he was told ”don’t go there”. A number of colleagues are saying this just won’t work. He freelances and you cannot control that.’
Sir Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said there was now so much anger over so-called Partygate that Mr Johnson should consider whether the country would ‘heal better’ if he left No 10.
However the MP for Broxbourne stopped short of directly calling for the premier’s resignation, saying he had got ‘many things right’, such as the vaccines and lifting of lockdown, adding that leaving the top job would be ‘his decision’.
Mr Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, told Sky News: ‘This is just horrible for all MPs to continuously have to defend this to the British public.
‘The Government’s acknowledged the need for fundamental change, culture, make-up, discipline, the tone of Number 10, but the strategy has been one, it seems, of survival, of rushed policy announcements like the Navy taking over the migrant Channel crossings.
‘And attacking this week Keir Starmer with Jimmy Savile… I mean who advised the Prime Minister to say this? We’re better than this, we must seek to improve our standards and rise above where we are today.’
He added: ‘I don’t think the Prime Minister realises how worried colleagues are in every corner of the party, backbenchers and ministers alike, that this is all only going one way and will invariably slide towards a very ugly place.
‘I believe it’s time for the Prime Minister to take a grip of this; he himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be eventually submitted.
‘It’s time to resolve this completely so the party can get back to governing, and, yes, I know the next question you will ask, I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee.’
Another northern Tory MP told MailOnline that they expected a ‘trickle’ of people declaring they have sent letters, but the real tally would be much higher. ‘I suspect there are plenty more in who won’t say publicly,’ they added.
Senior Conservative MP Simon Hoare said that ‘the Jimmy Savile false allegation should be withdrawn’
Carrie and Boris Johnson are said to have attended the Downing Street flat party held on November 13, 2020, to celebrate the departure of Dominic Cummings, it has been claimed
Which Whitehall parties are being probed by the Metropolitan Police and which are not?
The Sue Gray update on the Partygate scandal has revealed the Metropolitan Police has launched formal probes into the overwhelming majority of alleged Covid rule-busting gatherings in Number 10 and Whitehall.
Below is a breakdown of which events are now subject to a criminal investigation and which have been deemed not to meet that threshold.
The gatherings which ARE being probed by the police
– May 20, 2020: BYOB garden party
The revelation came in an email, leaked to ITV, from senior civil servant Martin Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to ‘bring your own booze’ for an evening gathering.
The PM has admitted attending the gathering, but previously insisted he believed it was a work event which could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.
– June 18, 2020: Cabinet Office gathering
Ms Gray’s report revealed that a gathering in the Cabinet Office on this date is being investigated by the police. It has not previously been reported on.
The event was apparently held to mark the departure of a Number 10 private secretary.
– June 19, 2020: Birthday party for the PM
A Downing Street spokesman admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room after a meeting. A report from ITV News suggested up to 30 people attended and the PM was presented with a cake.
The broadcaster suggested the PM’s wife, Carrie Johnson, had organised the surprise get-together. Reports said Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of Mr and Mrs Johnson’s No 10 flat, briefly attended while undertaking work in Downing Street.
ITV News also reported that later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to further celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday in his official residence.
Number 10 previously said: ‘This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.’
The police probe relates specifically to the gathering in the Cabinet Room.
– November 13, 2020: Leaving party for senior aide
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
– November 13, 2020: Johnsons’ flat party
There are allegations that the Prime Minister’s then fiancee hosted parties in their flat, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 – the night Dominic Cummings departed Number 10.
A spokesman for Mrs Johnson has previously called the claim ‘total nonsense’.
– December 17, 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’
A number of outlets reported that a gathering was held in the Cabinet Office on December 17.
The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the party in room 103 of the Cabinet Office, that it had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was included in digital calendars as: ‘Christmas party!’
The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz took place, but a spokesman said: ‘The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.’
– December 17, 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head
The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce said she was ‘truly sorry’ over an evening gathering in the Cabinet Office for her leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.
Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she gathered with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she was co-operating with the Ms Gray’s probe.
– December 17, 2020: Number 10 leaving do
The Sue Gray update said the police are also probing a gathering in Downing Street held to mark the departure of a Number 10 official on December 17.
– December 18, 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street
The claim that kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.
Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the PM is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference.
– January 14, 2021: Number 10 leaving do for two staff members
A previously unreported gathering is being probed by the police. The Sue Gray update revealed an event in Downing Street for the departure of two Number 10 private secretaries is being looked at by the police.
– April 16, 2021: Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.
They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.
Mr Slack, who left his Number 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.
The Telegraph quoted a Number 10 spokesman as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.
The newspaper reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.
The four alleged parties which are not being investigated by the police
– May 15, 2020: Downing Street ‘cheese and wine’ party
The PM, his wife Carrie, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, were all pictured, in a photograph leaked to The Guardian, sitting around a table in the Number 10 garden, with wine and cheese in front of them.
Some 15 other people were also in the photograph, but the Prime Minister has insisted this was a work meeting, saying: ‘Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.’
– November 27, 2020: Second staff leaving do
The Mirror reported that the PM gave a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November while the lockdown in England was still in place.
Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings.
– December 10, 2020: Department for Education party
The DfE confirmed a social event happened after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.
A spokesman acknowledged that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.
– December 15, 2020: Downing Street quiz
The PM appeared on contestants’ screens at the quiz but has insisted he broke no rules.
An image published by the Sunday Mirror showed Mr Johnson flanked by two colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in Number 10.
Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson ‘briefly’ attended the quiz after the photographic evidence emerged but insisted it was a virtual event.
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