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Public ‘WON’T accept PM’s claims’ over party scandal as Tory MPs call for him to QUIT


THE PUBLIC “won’t accept” Boris Johnson’s claims that he thought the Downing Street garden party was a “work event” amid growing calls for the PM to quit.

Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan said the controversy surrounding the Prime Minister was proving a distraction to efforts to convey public health messaging in Northern Ireland.

“I don’t think the public accepted that justification, if it was an attempt to justify that this wasn’t a party and that it was work-related,” he said.

“So ultimately, Boris Johnson needs to be able to convince the general public, he also needs to be able to convince his own party. It is they who will decide the future of the Prime Minister. Either he takes a decision himself around his future or it’ll be the Conservative Party that will take that decision.

“And this report, I think, is going to be very important, which Sue Gray is responsible for. I think there is an imperative for that work to come to a conclusion so that we can all draw a line under this and ensure that the wider public health messaging is consistent, rather than being distracted by what’s going on at Downing Street.”

The news comes as Boris Johnson apologised to the Commons yesterday over his involvement in the Downing Street lockdown parties – but a number of Tory MPs are calling for him to quit.

Read our covid live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Boris Johnson’s full apology

    Boris Johnson told MP’s: “I certainly wish that things would have happened differently on the evening of May the 20th and I apologise for all the misjudgements that have been made, for which I take full responsibility.”

    And he claimed he thought it was a “work event” and he had thanked groups of staff “before going back into my office 25 minutes later”.

    He said that “with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside… I should have recognised that even if it did fall within the guidance, there would be millions of people who would simply not see it that way.”

  • 79% of Adults have had booster

    Sajid Javid says 79% of eligible adults have now had a booster, following the great vaccine effort.

    The figure for over 50’s is also at 91%.

    The Health Secretary has said the UK is the most boosted large country in the world, per capita.

  • Labour welcomes the changes

    Wes Streeting, The Shadow Health Secretary, says Labour welcomes the announcement the health secretary has made on the reduction of the Covid isolation period to five days.

    However Wes Streeting urged Javid to ‘sort out’ the accessibility of testing after many struggled to get test kits.

    He said “Workforce shortages are one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS and the wider economy.”

  • Self-isolation CUT to five full days

    The Health Secretary revealed the major rule change will coming in next Monday to ministers today in the House of Commons.

    Calls had come to slash the isolation period to stop mass staff absences, which have left the NHS struggling.

    Health chiefs had resisted doing this sooner, after reducing isolation from ten to seven days just before Christmas.

    But after Government research suggested the rule change would only result in an extra two in 100 people ending quarantine while still infectious, ministers changed their minds.

  • Who are the members of the 1922 Committee?

    The 1922 Committee has 18 executive members who organise weekly meetings and other business.

    They earned the nickname “men in suits” or “men in grey suits” in the 1980s after prompting the resignation of Margaret Thatcher.

    Committee Chair Sir Graham Brady resigned in May 2019, but was re-elected in July 2021.

    Here’s a list of current executive members:

    • Sir Graham Brady (Chair)
    • William Wragg (Joint Vice-Chair)
    • Nusrat Ghani (Joint Vice-Chair)
    • Bob Blackman (Joint Executive Secretary)
    • Gary Sambrook (Joint Executive Secretary)
    • Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Treasurer)
    • Sir Bernard Jenkin
    • Karl McCartney
    • Sir Bernard Jenkin
    • Jason McCartney
    • Nicola Richards
    • Sheryll Murray
    • Richard Holden
    • Martin Vickers
  • What is the 1922 Committee? (Continued…)

    They are still under the control of the party whips, so their ability to stoke insurrection is partly limited.

    But it is the Committee that assesses, organises and ballots on leadership challenges — meaning its power, when called upon, can be huge.

    This happened when chair Sir Graham Brady received enough votes to bring a motion of no confidence against Theresa May on December 12, 2018.

    The move ultimately failed, with May winning with a majority of 83, with 200 Conservative MPs voting for her to remain, and 117 voting against her.

    However, on May 24, 2019, Mrs May resigned her position, a decision triggered by a meeting with Brady who warned her of a new no-confidence vote.

  • What is the 1922 Committee?

    The 1922 Committee is a group of backbench Conservative MPs who meet weekly when the House of Commons is sitting to discuss party matters.

    Formerly known as the Conservative Private Members’ Committee, “The 22” allow less senior members of the Tory party to air their concerns, report on constituency work and coordinate legislative agendas.

    The committee holds a monthly meeting with the party leader and gives an update on opinions within the party.

    All this is done without fear of reprisal from Cabinet ministers (or Shadow Cabinet frontbenchers if the Tories are in opposition) because they are not permitted to be formal members.

    Only since 2010 have frontbenchers been given an open invitation to attend meetings.

  • What is a Vote of no confidence by the Opposition?

    This involves a motion of no confidence being moved in the House of Commons coming from the Opposition, with the wording “that this House has no confidence in HM Government”.

    The backing of a majority of MPs would topple the Government – it only requires one more MP to vote in favour than against.

    The Tories narrowly survived this type of challenge on the eve of January 16, 2019, after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought the motion in the wake of the trounced “meaningful vote”.

    On September 25, 2019, Tory PM Boris Johnson challenged his Labour opposition MPs to offer a vote of no confidence.

    Johnson, who has twice failed to trigger a General Election and is under fire after unlawfully suspending Parliament, laid the gauntlet to his colleagues who will be torn about the prospect of an election in the midst of a Brexit crisis.

  • What is a vote of no confidence by the Government?

    This is in effect a threat of dissolution by the Government, which persuades backbench MPs to support a bill.

    A General Election could be triggered if the Government loses, but it will more likely end in the resignation of the leader.

    On December 12, 2018, Tory MPs wrote to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee expressing no confidence in Theresa May, the then Prime Minister.

    They asked for 48 MPs wrote letters expressing their desire for a vote of no confidence to the backbench 1922 Committee, triggering an anonymous ballot to decide their leader’s fate.

    May survived despite a third of MPs voting against her, resigning five months later on May 24, 2019.

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg stands by Boris

    Jacob Rees-Mogg told Times Radio that he is still the “best person” to lead the country.

    He dismissed Tory MPs baying for blood as “always unhappy” critics who harbour long-standing grudges against the PM.

    Sajid Javid said he “completely understands” why the public feels “let down” but they should wait for the probe to finish.

  • Reputation has been shredded

    Long-time critic Sir Roger Gale branded the PM a “dead man walking” while Julian Sturdy said his excuses “will not wash with the British public”.

    One senior MP likened his apology to “dampening the fire with a water pistol”. They added: “We are all going to get piles of s*** thrown at us over the weekend in our constituencies. I still really like Boris but I feel really disappointed. And lied to.”

    Others said the apology may have bought the PM time – but his reputation has been shredded.

    They believe he could be gone in days if fresh revelations of lockdown-breaking parties emerge, or if the Gray report is damning. Others said a bad result in May’s local elections will be the final nail in his coffin.

  • Sir Jonathan Van-Tam statement

    Confirming the news of his departure, he said “My time as DCMO have been the most challenging of my professional career, especially the Covid response.

    “We all wish Covid had never happened. Notwithstanding, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the people of the UK during this time.”

  • Mr Sunak breaks silence

    After ten 10 hours of silence, sparking rumours Mr Sunak could make a leadership move, the Chancellor tweeted last night: “The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”

    Michael Gove tried to placate the troops at a meeting of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbenchers. Now was “not the time to get flaky” on the “PM that delivered us our massive majority”, he said.

    But as the PM’s team were frantically spinning to keep him in office, more MPs were breaking cover to call for his head. Senior Tory William Wragg, vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, told BBC Radio 4 his position was “untenable”.

  • Labour opens up 10-point gap

    The Conservatives have slumped to just 28% according to the new survey – their lowest predicted vote share since the PM won the 2019 election.

    Their support has tumbled five points on this time last week following seven days of torrid headlines for the Government over Covid rule breaking.

    In contrast the poll predicts Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour would win 38% of the vote if an election were called now.

    That would give him a slender Commons majority of four and see the PM lose his Uxbridge seat, according to the Electoral Calculus model.

    It would also be the party’s biggest lead over the Tories since December 2013.

  • Boris dodges vaccination centre visit and pooled interview

    The Prime Minister has pulled out of visiting a vaccination centre in Burnley and participating in a pooled TV interview after a family member has tested positive for Covid.

    No10 said Boris will not travel – even though he doesn’t need to isolate.

    Under his own government’s rules, those who are fully jabbed – like the PM is – do not need to quarantine even if a member of their household tests positive.

    A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister will no longer be visiting Lancashire today due to a family member testing positive for coronavirus.

    “He will follow the guidance for vaccinated close contacts, including daily testing and limiting contact with others.”

  • Long week ahead

    Mr Johnson will now spend an agonising weekend awaiting the results of an investigation by Whitehall sleaze-buster Sue Gray.

    He had spent almost 48 hours trying to avoid discussing the leaked party invite that has rocked Westminster, insisting he could not comment while the probe was ongoing.

  • Scottish Conservatives leader says PM must go

    Last night the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, said the PM must go, while at least three MPs put in letters demanding a no-confidence vote.

    The Cabinet launched a public show of support, but privately two ministers admitted to The Sun their leader could be “toast”.

  • Boris battling to stay in No10

    The Prime Minister finally confessed to attending the boozy May 2020 bash in the Downing Street garden at the start of a brutal Commons showdown Wednesday.

    He said he believed the sunshine knees-up was “a work event” and spent 25 minutes there to thank pandemic-weary staff.

    However Mr Johnson remains in deep peril after his own MPs, lawyers and voters savaged his excuses.

    Senior Tory MPs broke cover to demand he quit, as others claimed the PM’s insistence he had not broken the rules made matters worse and “will not wash” with the public.

  • Boris’ spokesman insists Cabinet are behind PM

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted the Cabinet fully supported Mr Johnson.

    Asked about the delay in Ms Truss and Mr Sunak showing their support, the spokesman said: “What the Prime Minister wants and expects is the Cabinet to be focused on delivering on the public’s priorities.”

    Asked if he believed he had the full support of his Cabinet, the spokesman said: “Yes.”

    But Mr Johnson faced open revolt from one wing of his party, as Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross urged him to quit, with almost all Tory MSPs supporting the call.

  • Many Tories predict Boris won’t last to declare victory over Covid

    The party’s mood remained dark yesterday, with many predicting that Mr Johnson will not last long enough to declare victory over coronavirus. One senior minister compared him to the bungling former king of bling Gerald Ratner, 72 — who sank his jewellery empire with an ill-fated speech slagging off his own cheap products.

    They said: “It is a bit like when Ratner joked that he could flog a decanter and sherry glasses for £4.95 because they were crap. If this is Boris’ Ratner moment then he is broken.

    “A few announcements will not rescue it. If you think it is terminal then you may as well sell up and start again.”

    Another senior Tory said it is now just a question of “when” Boris will be booted out of Downing Street. The MP said: “You can’t have somebody who misleads you.” Boris was bunkered down in No 10 yesterday after cancelling a planned trip to the Red Wall after a family member caught Covid.

    He was laying low as his warring party continued to tear chunks out of each other over his future. It followed the PM’s “heartfelt” apology on Wednesday for the party at the height of lockdown.

  • Boris ‘must scrap Covid passports and ditch booze culture to save career’

    BORIS Johnson must scrap masks and Covid vaccine passports, ditch the booze culture at No 10 and have a staff clear out to save his career, Cabinet ministers demanded last night.

    The embattled Prime Minister must put Britain back on the road to freedom in two weeks to stand a chance of surviving, they warned.

    Their plan for Boris emerged as civil war broke out among the Conservatives over the Downing Street party scandal — with some calling for Mr Johnson’s head.

    Covid Plan B curbs — including vaccine passports, compulsory masks and work from home orders — are loathed by Tory MPs and due to be reviewed on January 26.

    One Cabinet minister told The Sun yesterday: “There’s a very easy way to get back into MPs’ good books, but there will be a fight.”

    They added that the PM would need “stomach” to stare down medics and teaching unions who want mask wearing to continue for months to come.
    But they said the plan is “his only ace left to play”.

  • Lib Dem leader accuses Met Police of ‘turning blind eye’

    Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Metropolitan Police of turning a “blind eye” to alleged rule-breaking by the Prime Minister.

    The Met have indicated any investigation by detectives into reports of lockdown gatherings at No 10 would depend on evidence unearthed in the inquiry by senior official Sue Gray.

    Sir Ed said: “The evidence that Boris Johnson broke the law is clear to everyone. Cressida Dick mustn’t let him off the hook through a shady establishment stitch-up.

    “The police don’t need the Government’s permission to investigate a crime, and they mustn’t turn a blind eye to criminality just because it is committed by Boris Johnson.

    “It is ludicrous to pretend that we can leave it to a civil servant appointed by Boris Johnson to get to the bottom of this.

    “The Met Commissioner might think it’s one rule for Boris Johnson and another rule for everyone else, but that doesn’t make it right. Our city and our country deserve so much better.”

  • Boris battling to stay in No10

    The Prime Minister finally confessed to attending the boozy May 2020 bash in the Downing Street garden at the start of a brutal Commons showdown Wednesday.

    He said he believed the sunshine knees-up was “a work event” and spent 25 minutes there to thank pandemic-weary staff.

    However Mr Johnson remains in deep peril after his own MPs, lawyers and voters savaged his excuses.

    Senior Tory MPs broke cover to demand he quit, as others claimed the PM’s insistence he had not broken the rules made matters worse and “will not wash” with the public.

  • Statement by Jonathan Van-Tam

    Confirming the news of his departure, he said “My time as DCMO have been the most challenging of my professional career, especially the Covid response.

    “We all wish Covid had never happened. Notwithstanding, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the people of the UK during this time.”

  • Long week ahead

    Mr Johnson will now spend an agonising weekend awaiting the results of an investigation by Whitehall sleaze-buster Sue Gray.

    He had spent almost 48 hours trying to avoid discussing the leaked party invite that has rocked Westminster, insisting he could not comment while the probe was ongoing.





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