Boris Johnson needs to go over a 'matter of trust' says Davis
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The problems dogging Boris Johnson aren’t going anywhere this week, as Sue Gray’s findings on the lockdown parties are expected, senior Tory William Wragg – who claimed MPs seeking to oust the PM were “blackmailed” – will meet with police, and the Cabinet Office begins investigations into allegations that Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani was sacked as a minister partly because she’s Muslim. So far, six Tory MPs have publicly declared no confidence in the PM, far short of the 45 required for a formal vote, but many more are expected to come forth if this week goes badly.
Mr Johnson is said to have spent much of the weekend desperately trying to shore up support as he remains determined to fight on.
Government insiders have said the mood within Downing Street is becoming “increasingly bleak”, with expectations now that the Sue Gray report will be “bad” for the party.
But allies of the Prime Minister have said they remain certain he would win a no-confidence vote if it were to come.
Ministers and MPs who back Mr Johnson have also helped with contacting Tory colleagues in an attempt to calm concerns about “partygate”, with one supporter saying: “It’s up to us now to save his career.”
So who is still in the PM’s corner?
While Mr Johnson does indeed have people still fighting his corner, some of those who have come out publicly in support of the PM have motives of their own, with an imminent leadership challenge expected by some. Here’s a look at the big names who have pledged to support the boss:
1. Rishi Sunak
The Chancellor might be the bookies’ favourite to become the next prime minister, but he’s not made any indications that he plans to fight.
After Mr Johnson first spoke out over allegations of a lockdown party, Mr Sunak tweeted: “The PM was right to apologize and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”
But when asked in an interview if Mr Johnson had his “unequivocal support”, Mr Sunak declined to answer, and the two men are rumoured to have been at loggerheads for months, so it’s unlikely Mr Sunak will remain loyal if the ship capsizes.
2. Liz Truss
More vocal in her support for the PM is another leadership favourite, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
She sat next to Mr Johnson in the Commons as he apologised and endured a kicking from MPs, and tweeted afterwards: “The PM is delivering for Britain — from Brexit to the booster programme to economic growth.
“I stand behind the Prime Minister 100 percent as he takes our country forward.”
However, Ms Truss has since jetted off to Australia, viewed by some as an attempt to get out of dodge while things escalate in the hope she’ll be able to keep her hands clean ahead of a leadership challenge.
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3. Nadine Dorries
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries got behind Mr Johnson, tweeting: “PM was right to personally apologise earlier.
“People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that.
“The inquiry should now be allowed to its work and establish the full facts of what happened.”
4. Michael Gove
Housing Secretary Michael Gove wasn’t hugely emphatic in his support for the PM, but still offered it.
Responding to Ms Dorries’ tweet, he simply wrote: “Nadine is right”.
5. Nadhim Zahawi
The Education Secretary followed suit, posting a finger emoji pointing at Ms Dorries’s tweet.
Again, not hugely emphatic, but no doubt the PM will take it.
6. Grant Shapps
The Transport Secretary is a close ally of Mr Johnson and appears to be sticking by him.
He told ITV’s Robert Peston that the reason Johnson didn’t cut short the May 20 gathering is that “he’s human” and “people make mistakes.”
Mr Shapps — now helping to organise the fightback — had previously spoken of his “sheer anger” upon discovering a party had taken place.
Though he stressed his backing for the Prime Minister on that occasion, he didn’t deny he’d pulled out of a series of tricky morning broadcast interviews on the day Mr Johnson first addressed Parliament about the scandal.
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