Boris Johnson: Tory MPs are said to share public dismay over Downing Street parties, but will they do anything about it? – Ian Swanson

If it was up to voters, Boris Johnson would no longer be prime minister.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:45 pm

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Polls show 60 per cent or more think he should resign after presiding over a Downing Street which doubled as party central while the rest of us were living in lockdown.

People are rightly disgusted at the rule-breaking shindigs which seem to have been a regular feature of life at Number 10 while across the county families were not allowed to be with dying relatives in hospital or visit elderly loved-ones in care homes.

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The contrast between indulgence and sacrifice is starkly illustrated by accounts of the Prime Minister's staff buying bottles of wine by the suitcase and dancing the night away in the basement just hours before the Queen sat alone to mourn her husband at his pared-down funeral.

Many Tory MPs are said privately to share the public's dismay. The question is whether they are going to do anything about it.

It needs 54 of them to send letters to the chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson and then a majority of all Tory MPs to vote him out.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is notable among the few who have so far called publicly for the Prime Minister to go and most Tory MSPs have backed him.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not appear likely to resign of his own volition (Picture: Jeff Gilbert/Getty Images)

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Other MPs seem to be holding their tongue, wondering whether Boris Johnson could actually tough this out and if there is a chance it could blow over and be forgotten about by the time of the next election, which doesn’t need to be until late 2024.

They are thinking about how it affects their own chances of holding onto their seats. And they seem not to be convinced that ditching Mr Johnson in favour of Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss would improve their electoral prospects.

Despite his half-apology to parliament and the humiliation of having to say sorry to the Queen for his staff partying on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, Boris Johnson has no intention of resigning of his own volition.

His arrogant disregard for rules that everyone else follows extends to the norms of political conduct. His lies, his illegal proroguing of parliament, the dodgy financing of his lavish revamp of the Downing Street flat may well have seen other Prime Minister’s resign. But he just brushes them aside and carries on regardless.

So what is to be done?

Everyone is awaiting the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the Downing Street parties, but that may not help uncertain MPs make up their mind.

Local elections in May could indicate how much the scandal translates into anti-Tory votes, but it would not necessarily be a good forecast for a general election in two-and-a-half years.MPs who do want to see the back of the Prime Minister are hesitant about sending in their letters because if a no-confidence vote is held and does not win a majority he cannot be challenged again for a year.

If Boris Johnson hangs on and leads the Tories into the next election, it will then be for the voters to show they have not forgotten their disgust with the Prime Minister who seems to think he can get away with anything.

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