Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Boris Johnson has done enough to fend off the immediate challenge for leadership, but the threat is not yet over

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Only the most hostile MPs openly oppose the Prime Minister for the time being, while others await Sue Gray’s verdict

But it seems like enough to curb the anger of Conservative MPs – for now.

Boris Johnson’s future is in grave danger. His statement to the House of Commons claiming he only went to a lockdown party because it looked like a “work incident” will not put an end to the scandal.

Backbenchers rushed into the Chamber of Commons for questions from the Prime Minister and cheered as he entered, but were repeatedly cast into silence as opposition MPs read heartbreaking reports of families being forced into isolation while No. 10 staff drank in the sun.

More than a dozen Tory MPs asked Mr Johnson questions, and each one avoided the topic of parties: instead, they asked about washing machines, the Rutland dinosaur, television fees, and – to the laughter of the opposition – job centers.

For a handful of already disgruntled Conservatives, the Prime Minister’s admission of partaking of the drinks is the last straw. But those who broke cover and called for his resignation are the usual suspects who have long spoken out against Mr Johnson.

He who holds the fate of his leader in his hand holds the fire. It is the seasoned former ministers and young trainees who are loyal in public but who are now deeply concerned that the prime minister is doing more than good to the Tories.

They are concerned about the Downing Street rule violation but by and large ready to help Mr Johnson when in doubt – at least until Sue Gray finishes her report detailing what happened.

Nobody except Sir Graham Brady knows how many letters the backbench supremo currently has in his inbox asking for a vote of no confidence.

Badly informed Westminster gossip puts the number at two dozen, but in reality it could only be four or five. However, if Mrs Gray rules against the Prime Minister later this month, there is no doubt that Sir Graham will be inundated.

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