'Partygate' Scandal: Over Two Dozen Ex-Ministers Reportedly Prepared to Take Action Against BoJo

© AFP 2023 / TOLGA AKMENBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering to stop the spread of coronavirus, waves as he leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 15, 2021, to take part in the weekly session of Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering to stop the spread of coronavirus, waves as he leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 15, 2021, to take part in the weekly session of Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.01.2022
Boris Johnson stated at PMQs in the Commons on Wednesday that he would not resign in the wake of the so-called "partygate" row - a series of alleged lockdown-busting gatherings at his Downing Street office and residence. He also urged waiting until the findings civil servant Sue Gray’s probe are released.
Over two dozen former ministers are poised to send letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson once the findings of the much-anticipated Cabinet Office “partygate” probe are published, reported The Guardian.
Overall, there are more than 70 Tories in that category. 54 letters need to be submitted to the 1922 Committee chair, Graham Brady, to trigger a no confidence ballot against the Prime Minister.
A dozen or so MPs from the 2019 parliamentary elections intake, who were previously suggested as being implicated in the so-called “pork pie plot” after meeting in the office of Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, are believed to have entered a consensus with senior colleagues that Johnson should face a no-confidence vote.
“It’s the white, middle-aged backbencher he has to watch. People who feel strongly about their morals and to whom this prime minister can’t offer anything personally,” an MP was cited as saying.
While no group statement is anticipated from the over 100-strong ‘One Nation’ Tory centrist caucus, letters are likely to be sent by smaller groups of MPs, claimed parliamentarians.
Despite some Johnson allies cited as believing that the “window has passed” for critics to launch a leadership challenge against the PM, frontbench sources were quoted as voicing apprehensions about Scotland Yard launching its own investigation into the row.
“Some of us are still waiting to make up our mind,” stated one MP, while another acknowledged that, “If there’s any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the prime minister, he can’t stay in post.”
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently examining evidence, such as security logs, and interviewing witnesses to investigate multiple gatherings inside Downing Street and Whitehall over the past 18 months that may have broken coronavirus legislation. The findings are expected to be revealed this week.
In a parallel development, Met commissioner Cressida Dick announced on Tuesday that Metropolitan Police were investigating “a number of events… in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations."
While reports suggested that Gray’s findings would be imminently released, on Wednesday night Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, stated on ITV’s Peston that the report might be published no sooner than next week.
A No 10 source was also cited as dismissing speculations that it was pressuring Gray to publish a separate summary rather than complete findings.
It was also indicated that if the Cabinet Office’s report is published on Thursday or Friday, Boris Johnson would be ready to go to the Commons with it.
Johnson, who has faced growing calls to resign amid recent reports of a birthday party held for him on 19 June 2020 in Downing Street during the first COVID-19 lockdown, told MPs in the Commons on Tuesday he welcomed the police probe that would "help draw a line under matters".
Earlier this month Johnson also issued an apology in the House of Commons for attending one of the No10 events being probed – a garden gathering on 20 May 2020, claiming he thought it was a "work event." At the time, he had urged MPs to wait for Sue Gray to publish her findings, promising he would then make a statement and answer questions in the House of Commons.

Scenarios of Averting No Confidence

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s supporters are said to be brainstorming ways for him to dodge a no confidence vote once Gray’s report is released.
One approach ostensibly suggested is to persuade backbenchers that the government machine will be thoroughly overhauled, with some No 10 political advisers ditched. The government whips office has also been slated for an overhaul ahead of the 10 February recess, claims the outlet.
Thus, reports claim chief whip, Mark Spencer, could take over the post of Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with Chris Pincher tipped as a potential replacement.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson samples an Isle of Harris Gin as he visits a UK Food and Drinks market set up in Downing Street, central London on November 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2022
'PartyGate' Probe 'Has Pics of BoJo Next to Wine Bottles' at Lockdown-Breaching Bashes
Furthermore, Johnson’s allies are purportedly hoping to use the parliamentary recess as a “firebreak” to placate rebellious colleagues. Plans are ostensibly being assembled for Boris Johnson to go away on trade trips to Australia and Japan. Allies of the PM are described as having formed a nearly 100-strong WhatsApp “support group”, meeting up to three times a day in-person and virtually.
At least two people who had submitted no-confidence letters had withdrawn them, a senior member of the group was cited as saying.
“Unless you’re gonna kill the guy, back off – he’s going nowhere,” was the message being circulated, said one minister.
Some senior civil servants could feel the brunt of the fallout after the report comes out, claimed other sources.
Thus, cabinet secretary, Simon Case, and the PM’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, who invited 100 Downing Street staff to a “bring your own booze” party during the 2020 first lockdown are said to be marked for ouster.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the weekly question time debate at Parliament in London, Britain, January 19, 2022. UK Parliament /Jessica Taylor - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2022
UK PM Johnson Says He Will Not Resign Over Alleged Lockdown-Breaching Parties
On Wednesday, during PMQs in the Commons, Boris Johnson stated he would not resign in the wake of the so-called "partygate" row, while agreeing that those who break the ministerial code of conduct should step down.
Asked directly whether he would quit, Boris Johnson replied, "No."
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