Johnson draws up a survival plan as calls for cessation become louder

Johnson draws up a survival plan as calls for cessation become louder

Boris Johnson is facing a dangerous week as Conservative MPs return to Westminster after being overwhelmed by demands from local party members and voters to forcibly oust the prime minister.

Johnson has devised a plan to save his job – including clearing up his operation on Downing Street – as he tries to put the blame on his background staff for a “culture” of drinking and Covid lockdown fun.

However, Tory MPs will be in a feverish mood on Monday, with some claiming between 20-30 colleagues have handed in letters demanding a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.

“These are not just the usual suspects,” said one former government minister. One senior Tory MP said he had received nearly 500 emails in the past few days, with almost everyone urging Johnson to resign. “It’s pretty bad,” he said.

Although Johnson would face a no-confidence vote if requested by 53 Tory MPs, most Tories believe the prime minister is not yet doomed. “There is a window of survival for him, but it is closing quickly,” said one former minister.

The prime minister’s team still believes he can return to the helm with a series of announcements, which will allow him to stagger towards a very problematic round of local elections in May.

Although Downing Street has insisted on not “recognizing the conditions,” Johnson’s survival plan is now jokingly described in Whitehall as Operation Save the Big Dog and its set of new policies called Operation Red Meat.

The expected dismissal of officials and advisers on Downing Street will follow the release – probably this week – of a report by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant on parties in Whitehall.

Gray’s report is expected to be very critical of Downing Street staff and will detail the apparent culture of drinking and breaking Covid rules. But she is not expected to directly blame Johnson for this.

Oliver Dowden, the Conservative president, said he did not expect Johnson to face a subsequent investigation by Lord Geidt, an adviser on ministerial standards, saying the prime minister would be accountable to parliament.

“I do not diminish the moment that the events we saw were completely wrong,” he told Sky News on Sunday. Johnson was determined to “entertain the kind of culture in Downing Street that made it possible for something like this to happen.”

Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s chief private secretary, Dan Rosenfield, chief of staff, and some communications staff are among those who could be expelled from Downing Street.

Most Tory MPs do not believe the Gray report will in itself condemn Johnson, although many believe the “culture” number 10 – with multi-page reports during the Covid blockade – it came from the top.

“If you have a boss who acts quickly with rules and gets away with it, then it’s no wonder that employees working under him think they can do the same,” said one former minister.

Labor leader Keir Starmer believes Johnson is trying to hide behind Gray’s report. On Sunday, he claimed that the prime minister had “degraded the function of prime minister”, violated the law and that he should resign.

Dave Penman, head of the FDA’s civil service union, said: “This is not a culture of civil service, this is the culture in this issue 10 under this prime minister.”

While many Tory MPs will applaud Johnson for shaking up what he considers a failed Operation No. 10, the upcoming number of advisers and officials could create even more problems.

“Who will go and work for him now?” asked one senior adviser. “The mood in number 10 is already very bad. There is a rift between civil servants and the political end. Everyone is looking for a way out. ”

The danger for Johnson in the search for scapegoats is that a wider circle of people is ready to leak harmful stories against him. “The risk is the death of a thousand cuts,” said a former government minister.

On Sunday, Downing Street denied allegations that Johnson had been warned in advance that Reynolds was planning a “bring your own drink” party in a garden on Downing Street on May 20, 2020, in clear violation of English isolation rules.

Johnson hopes to be able to overcome the criticism in Gray’s report and try to move to a political program to convince his conservative critics that he still has control.

The key announcement is expected to be the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions when they expire on January 26, which Johnson will welcome as a justification for the government’s massive campaign to strengthen the vaccine.

Michael Gove’s long-awaited white paper on “equalization”, measures to reduce energy bills in households, are also being prepared. freeze license for BBC and greater military involvement in controlling the flow of migrants across the English Channel in small boats.

Most Tory MPs expect Johnson to survive in order to pursue his “red meat” policy in the next few weeks, but the mood in Westminster is unstable and could change quickly if more harmful discoveries occur.

Sir Roger Gale, a Conservative MP for North Thanet and one of half a dozen Tories who have publicly called for Johnson to resign, told the FT: “I have had some disturbing voter emails in recent days about parties.

“It simply came to our notice then opening old wounds for people, especially those who have lost loved ones and suffered enormous sacrifices due to isolation. ”

Some Tory MPs believe Johnson is not taking responsibility for what happened, despite apologizing to the nation last Wednesday.

One Tory MP said Johnson “looked completely unrepentant in private meetings, almost suggesting he had done nothing wrong.” The Prophet added: “We were all shocked – what does that say about his character?”

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