Home   Kent   News   Article

Paul on Politics: The pressure is on for Boris Johnson as Sue Gray's report looms

Has Boris Johnson confounded his enemies and proved that he is more wily - or perhaps lucky - than he is given credit for?

The political psycho-drama of a beleaguered Prime Minister on the verge of imploding has had many of his political foes salivating at the prospect of his demise over the saga dubbed ‘partygate.’

It's been a very hard week for Boris Johnson Picture: Phil Noble/PA
It's been a very hard week for Boris Johnson Picture: Phil Noble/PA

The prospect of a vote of no-confidence seemed to be inevitable as did the likely result.

He cut a chastened and disconsolated figure in an interview that added to the view of many that the game was up. The next day, moments before Prime Minister's Questions, there came news that one of his MPs had defected to Labour.

Could things get any worse? Yes, they could: veteran Conservative David Davis stood up to implore him to quit. Not so much a stab in the back but one in the front in full view.

It all added up to a feeling that we were watching a politician whose hold on the highest political office was loosening.

But despite everything - or maybe because of everything - the PM did the only thing he could, which was to come out with all guns blazing.

"While we were being careful, staying apart, missing relatives, and separated from those we love, those who set the rules have broken them..."

The defection seemed to galvanise him. Labour’s decision to enact the ritual crossing of the floor in the Commons was intended to ratchet up the pressure. Theatrical though it was, it united the Conservative backbenchers in a rowdy PMQs.

Disaffected MPs continued to talk up the prospect of forcing a vote of no confidence but there were reports some of those who had submitted formal letters had withdrawn them.

While he is by no means out of the woods, he could yet survive: damaged, certainly but in the face of events conspiring against him, a Houdini-like escape does not seem as improbable as when the week began.

His biggest concern will be the contents of the Sue Gray report into those lockdown parties and whether he knew more than he has admitted to. If it does, then the pressure will be back on him.

Feeling queasy over sleasy

Craig Mackinlay
Craig Mackinlay

After what appeared to be a collective vow of silence on the PM and partygate, some of the county’s MPs have set out their considered views on the saga.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay says he is “furious about this entirely self-inflicted damage.” But he also says that he finds it “hard to believe that the head of any organisation, and Whitehall is a huge one, would know of every gathering and popping cork let alone be the one promoting them.”

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has told constituents: “We have learned that while we were being careful, staying apart, missing relatives, and separated from those we love at important moments in our lives, those who set the rules have broken them.

"Having made heart-breaking personal sacrifices and experienced loss, this understandably has led many of us to feel angry and disappointed.”

Maidstone and Weald MP Helen Grant told constituents who contacted her about the matter: “I am afraid that the Prime Minister’s apology at PMQs last week has done little to quell my extreme concern over this very sorry state of affairs.”

The PM’s arch critic the veteran Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale has not added to his call for Boris to go. He too has kept under the radar.

Sir Roger Gale is not a fan of the PM Picture: Tony Flashman
Sir Roger Gale is not a fan of the PM Picture: Tony Flashman

Quite how he will respond if the testimony of Dominic Cummings - who has claimed he advised the PM that one of the now infamous gatherings breached restrictions - proves pivotal is anyone’s guess.

Sir Roger was not a fan. Back in 2019, he said.

"You have, at the heart of Number 10, as the prime minister's senior advisor, an unelected, foul-mouthed oaf" was his verdict.

All aboard

Remember when John Major promised to deal with stray traffic cones? The policy drew some ridicule at the time.

On the surface, the announcement by transport minister Grant Shapps that he planned to end the endless announcements you get on trains seemed a similarly rather light policy initiative.

But who hasn’t found the endless announcements to keep your belongings with you at all times an irritant? Though we’d guess that rather than tackling the tannoy, most rail users would prefer the government to focus on ticket price inflation.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More