August 14, 2022

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Boris Johnson is ‘optimistic’ he will win a confidence vote by his Tory MPs, even...

Boris Johnson is ‘optimistic’ he will win a confidence vote by his Tory MPs, even if he is fined by police over the Downing Street lockdown parties, it has been claimed. 
Allies of the Prime Minister have said he will continue to fight for his job even if the police find him to have been in the wrong over Partygate allegations, according to The Times.
Mr Johnson has received a questionnaire from police investigating allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in No 10, meaning he will have to provide a credible reason as to why he was at events held during coronavirus restrictions or face a fine.
It was claimed his allies said the Prime Minister believes he will survive a no-confidence vote even if he is fined after the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into 12 alleged events at No 10.
Downing Street sources told the publication Mr Johnson will fight any attempts to remove him and was ‘not going to just walk off stage’.  
Another warned that Mr Johnson has a ‘huge mandate’, adding: ‘He rightly considers himself a democratically elected prime minister on a huge mandate.’ 

Allies of Boris Johnson (pictured) have said he will continue to fight for his job if the police find him to have been in the wrong over Partygate allegations, according to reports

Another source told The Times the Prime Minister’s aides are confident that Tory MPs would be reluctant to vote against him in a motion of no confidence due to a lack of any clear successor.
An ally is understood to have said that the leadership race has already begun ‘behind closed doors’, with Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss tipped as potential contenders.
A no-confidence vote will be triggered if 15 per cent of Tory MPs, or 54 MPs, send letters to the chairman of the committee, Sir Graham Brady, while Mr Johnson needs 50 per cent of the vote plus one to win.
Fifteen Tory MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson to go, while further MPs are poised to call for a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister if he is fined, or further damaging details emerge from the Sue Gray inquiry.
But former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith previously said it would be ‘very tough’ for Mr Johnson to cling on to power if he is fined.
‘It will be difficult, he knows that,’ the senior MP said in an interview with the i newspaper.
Sir Iain added: ‘If you’ve set the laws, and you break them and the police decide you have broken them… and then there’s the unredacted (Sue Gray) report – the two things will come together.’
It comes after Mr Johnson received a questionnaire from police investigating allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in No 10, Downing Street confirmed.

A no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister (pictured) will be triggered if 15 per cent of Tory MPs, or 54 MPs, send letters to the chairman of the committee, Sir Graham Brady

The Metropolitan Police has begun sending questions up to 50 people in No 10 believed to have attended the illicit gatherings during lockdown, including the Prime Minister and reportedly his wife Carrie Johnson. 
The move means Mr Johnson will have to provide a credible reason as to why he was at events held during coronavirus restrictions or face a fine.
Mr Johnson is believed to have attended as many as six of the parties being investigating by the Metropolitan Police.
One such party was allegedly organised by Carrie Johnson in the official Downing Street residence on November 13, 2020.
During the party – on the night of former chief adviser Dominic Cumming’s departure – Abba songs were reportedly heard.


The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers oversees the process for removing a Conservative leader.
A no-confidence vote is triggered if 15 per cent of Tory MPs – or 54 MPs – send letters to the chairman of the committee, Sir Graham Brady.
Mr Johnson needs 50 per cent of the vote plus one to win the secret ballot of 360 MPs.
Fifteen Tory MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson to go, while more are thought to have privately written to Sir Brady. 
But the true figure is thought to be several times that as most MPs do not reveal their intentions.
And more still are poised to do so if the Prime Minister is found to have broken his own coronavirus laws, or further damaging details emerge from the Sue Gray inquiry. 
The committee has the ability to hold proxy votes, meaning that – if the threshold of 54 letters is met – a vote on the Prime Minister’s leadership could still take place even if MPs cannot attend in person.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson will argue to investigators that the Downing Street flat can also be a workplace, in order to explain his presence.
Officers working on Operation HIllman will then have to decide if this is considered a ‘reasonable excuse,’ and if they are not satisfied, the Prime Minister could be asked to attend a face-to-face interview with investigators before any final decision.
Others said to be at the party will also be questioned.
If after the interviews officers are still not satisfied that Mr Johnson’s presence at the alleged party was lawful, he could face a fine.
No 10 confirmed on Friday evening that the Prime Minister had received the legal form from Metropolitan Police officers, and said he will ‘respond as required’.
A No 10 spokesman said: ‘We can confirm the Prime Minister has received a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police. He will respond as required.’
The PM’s wife Carrie is also reported to have been emailed the questionnaire, which has to be answered honestly.
The Met Police say the questionnaires ask for an ‘account and explanation of the recipient’s participation in an event’ and have ‘formal legal status and must be answered truthfully’. 
The Prime Minister is alleged to have been at up to six of the 12 events being investigated, including the ‘bring your own booze’ party in the No 10 garden in May 2020 during the first lockdown.
Meanwhile, outgoing Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick this week suggested some of those being contacted by officers will end up with fines.
‘Clearly, some, but probably not all, of those people may very well end up with a ticket,’ she told BBC Radio London.
Dame Dick has dramatically resigned from her post as the Met Commissioner yesterday, meaning her No2 at Scotland Yard could face a Partygate timebomb after her resignation with a permanent replacement thought to be months away. 
Deputy commissioner Steve House could be left trying to manage the fallout from the criminal investigation into Johnson’s Downing Street after Dame Cressida announced she will only stay on for a ‘short period’ to ensure ‘stability’.
It is understood the process of identifying a replacement will take ‘months not weeks’, with Home Secretary Priti Patel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan gearing up for a clash. 
The Met has insisted that Dame Cressida’s resignation will have no impact on the probe – named Operation Hillman – which is being overseen by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors.  

Elsewhere, Mr Johnson hit back at Sir John Major (above) after he said the under-fire Tory leader must resign if it is proven he deliberately misled Parliament over Partygate allegations

But the organisation’s leadership will inevitably need to handle the political implications of what the investigation dredges up.  
Elsewhere, Mr Johnson furiously hit back at Sir John Major after the former Conservative prime minister accused him of ‘shredding’ Britain’s international reputation and insisted that he must resign if it is proven that he deliberately misled Parliament over Partygate. 
Speaking at the Institute for Government think-tank in London, Sir John launched a scathing attack as the under-fire Tory leader refused to say whether he would resign if he is fined by police investigating alleged lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street during the pandemic.
Sir John, a longstanding foe of Mr Johnson’s administration and opponent of Brexit, accused the PM of breaking Covid lockdown laws. He claimed that ministers had regularly been sent to ‘defend the indefensible’ and had made the Government look ‘distinctly shifty’.
But while visiting Poland earlier this week, Mr Johnson insisted a claim by Sir John that Britain’s reputation abroad was being ‘shredded’ was ‘demonstrably untrue’.
In Brussels, Mr Johnson said he would not outline how he will respond until the police investigation concludes as he was questioned about his political future during a press conference with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Russian aggression against Ukraine.
‘That process must be completed and I’m looking forward to it being completed and that’s the time to say more on that,’ the Prime Minister told reporters.
Speaking in London, Sir John said ‘deliberate lies to Parliament have been fatal to political careers’ and ‘must always be so’.
‘At No10, the Prime Minister and officials broke lockdown laws,’ he told the Institute for Government. ‘Brazen excuses were dreamed up. Day after day the public was asked to believe the unbelievable. Ministers were sent out to defend the indefensible — making themselves look gullible or foolish.
‘Collectively, this has made the Government look distinctly shifty, which has consequences that go far beyond political unpopularity. No Government can function properly if its every word is treated with suspicion.’ 
The former prime minister, who led the country from 1990 to 1997, said trust in politics has hit a ‘low ebb, eroded by foolish behaviour’ while ‘too often, ministers have been evasive, and the truth has been optional’.
Sir John stopped short of directly calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation at this moment, suggesting he would await the verdict of the Metropolitan Police inquiry. But asked if any leader found to have broken the law should resign, he responded: ‘That has always been the case.’
Following Sir John’s speech, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said members of the Cabinet should consider how long they could carry on supporting Mr Johnson.
‘I think they’re going to have to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves whether they can carry on with this Prime Minister. I think in their hearts a number of them know that they can’t,’ he said.
‘I can see a divide now between those that are quite prepared to go out and defend the indefensible or those that are obviously very, very uncomfortable now doing that. And so, sooner or later, this has just got to come to a head.’ 

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Timeline: The Downing Street parties being probed by the police

Boris Johnson has received a questionnaire from police investigating allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.
The Prime Minister may have attended as many as six events that are being looked into by police, according to reports.
A ‘bring your own booze party’ attended by Mr Johnson during the first Covid lockdown and a gathering to mark his birthday are among 12 parties being investigated.
Further details have since been reported, suggesting the Conservative Party leader was seen heading to a party in his No 11 residence on the night his former senior aide Dominic Cummings departed, and that he briefly attended a leaving do for one of his former defence advisers.
The 12 parties being investigated by the Metropolitan Police are:
– May 20 2020: Bring Your Own Booze party:
A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds showed No 10 staff were invited to ‘bring your own booze’ to an event in the Downing Street garden.
Mr Johnson has admitted he was there for 25 minutes, but said he thought it was a ‘work event’ to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
– June 18 2020: Cabinet Office leaving do:
Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.
The event had not previously been disclosed but The Telegraph said the official in question is former home affairs policy adviser Hannah Young, who left Downing Street to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York.
The newspaper said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.
– June 19 2020: Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday:
Downing Street has admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for the Prime Minister organised by his now wife Carrie.
The PA news agency was told Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.
However, No 10 has denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.
– November 13 2020: Downing Street flat do:
Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and Mr Johnson live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s wife called the claim ‘total nonsense’.
But reports have since suggested that the Prime Minister was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.
Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he exited Downing Street.
– November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide:
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
– December 17 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’:
The Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.
It was reported the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was included in digital calendars as: ‘Christmas party!’ and included an online quiz.
The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event ‘but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own’.
– December 17 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head:
The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce Kate Josephs said she was ‘truly sorry’ over leaving drinks held in the Cabinet Office.
– December 17 2020: No 10 leaving do:
A leaving do was held for a departing Downing Street official.
The Telegraph reported that the staff member in question is Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.
The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said Mr Johnson was only there ‘for a few minutes’.
Capt Higham became Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021.
– December 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party:
Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton resigned after video emerged of her joking about a ‘fictional party’ at a mock press conference.
– January 14 2021: More Downing Street leaving drinks:
A gathering was held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.
Reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to The Telegraph.
The other official’s identity is so far unknown.
– April 16 2021: Leaving drinks on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral:
The night before the Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband of almost 70 years, in compliance with Covid rules at the time, two leaving dos were reportedly held in No 10.
Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after reported details emerged of boozy drinks parties, including one for outgoing communications director James Slack.
Events not subject to police investigation:
– May 15 2020: Cheese and wine in the No 10 garden:
A photograph emerged of a number of groups gathered in the No 10 garden, including Mr Johnson, Mrs Johnson, Mr Cummings and Mr Reynolds sitting together on the terrace.
– November 27 2020: Another special adviser leaves:
Mr Johnson reportedly gave a leaving speech at a gathering for Cleo Watson, another ally of Mr Cummings.
– December 10 2020: Department for Education Christmas drinks:
Then education secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly threw a party and delivered a short speech at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.
– December 15 2020: An online Christmas quiz in No 10:
The Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens at the quiz but insisted he broke no rules.

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