Angela Rayner says Labour will 'hold Boris to account' at PMQs
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Mr Johnson is facing a high noon showdown in the Commons over allegations related to a “bring your own booze” party in an apparent breach of Covid lockdown rules. He will make his first public appearance since the leak on Monday of an email from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting Downing Street staff to the gathering in May 2020 to “make the most of the lovely weather”.
So far Mr Johnson has refused to say whether he was present at the May event, despite reports he and his fiancee (now wife), Carrie Symonds, were among roughly 30 people to attend at a time when such gatherings were banned.
However, the influential Tory backbench MP said it was now crucial for Mr Johnson to clear things up once and for all – warning failure to do so would be seriously damaging to him.
The MP told Express.co.uk: “He is clearly in a difficult position.
“He would be well-advised to make absolutely clear what did or did not happen. He’s got to do that today.”
They added: “It’s usually the case that if people admit to doing something wrong and apologise through properly, they will be forgiven.
“Keeping his head down and will have exactly the opposite effect.
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“He’s got to be on the very top of his game at PMQs today.”
Asked whether an admission that he had attended the event would finish Mr Johnson politically, the MP said: “I’m not sure that it would be fatal.
“He’s obviously badly damaged. However, if he can put this behind him and start delivering on manifesto pledges, he may well be able to recover a lot of the lost ground.”
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Nevertheless, the MP stressed: “He needs to be completely clear. This drip drip drip of bad news is corrosive.
“It’s obviously being organised by somebody.”
The Prime Minister has insisted it is a matter for Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall in the course of 2020 to determine what happened.
However, other Conservative MPs have warned such a position was simply unsustainable because Mr Johnson must know whether he was at the “socially distanced drinks” or not.
Several have already gone on the record with their concerns, including Huw Merriman, who is chairman of the Commons Transport Committee, as well as Nigel Mills and Christian Wakeford.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said Mr Johnson must reveal “right now” if he attended, urging him to resign if it transpired he had breached Covid regulations or misled Parliament.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes is now offering odds of 8/15 on Mr Johnson being replaced as PM by the end of the year, with Rishi Sunak the 9/4 favourite.
Two polls published on Tuesday suggested the public mood was souring towards Mr Johnson.
A Savanta ComRes study based on interviews on January 11 with 1,040 British adults found 66 percent of British adults thought he should quit, with 24 percent saying he should stay.
A YouGov survey for Sky News based on interviews with 5391 British adults, also interviewed on January 11, found 56 percent believed he should go, with 27 percent saying he should remain.
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