Boris faces Starmer in PMQs clash after ‘Partygate’ scandal and Tory MPs’ plot to oust him

BORIS Johnson is back in the firing line today as he faces Keir Starmer at PMQs amid the worsening “Partygate” scandal and a Tory plot to oust him.

Just minutes before he got to his feet in the Commons the PM was rocked by the news of a Conservative MP defecting to Labour.



NINTCHDBPICT000706099097Credit: PA
Boris was rocked by the defection of a Tory MP to Labour moments before PMQs


Boris was rocked by the defection of a Tory MP to Labour moments before PMQsCredit: Reuters
Sir Keir Starmer will target the PM on what he knew about No 10 parties


Sir Keir Starmer will target the PM on what he knew about No 10 partiesCredit: Sky News

Christian Wakeford, a 2019 Red Waller representing Bury South, defected with a parting shot that the PM is “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

Boris faced jeers as he entered the chamber today and immediately had to fend off questions calling on him to resign.

To laughing and cheers from the Labour backbenchers Sir Keir immediately stuck the knife in about the defection and No 10 parties.

Welcoming Mr Wakeford, he said: “Like so many people up and down the country he has concluded that the Prime Minister, the Conservative Party have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership this country deserves.

“Every week the PM offers absurd and frankly unbelievable defences to the Downing Street parties and each week it unravels.”

Boris was drowned out as he said people must wait for the inquiry into the bashes being carried out by top civil servant Sue Gray.

But to cheers from Tories he then added: “The Conservative party won Bury South for the first time in generations under this PM with an agenda of uniting and levelling up and delivering for the people of Bury South, and we will win again in Bury South at the next election under this PM.”

Boris also said he was “proud” of the work his staff in No 10 have done on fighting the pandemic.

He said: “Throughout the pandemic people across Government have been working flat out to protect the British public.”

And in a barb at Sir Keir he suggested the Labour leader “tell the House” about pictures of him drinking a bottle of beer with staff last May.

The PM has faced another hellish week of No 10 party revelations and is braced for a verbal battering over claims of Downing St rule breaking.

He is hoping to get his premiership back on track later this afternoon by announcing the good news that Plan B restrictions are being binned.

But first Boris will have to navigate a stormy Westminster chamber amid growing rumours that a challenge to his leadership is imminent.

It comes as…

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is set to go in heavily once more on what he knew about the lockdown-busting parties happening under his own roof.

And there has been chatter that backbench Tories are getting close to submitting the 54 letters that would trigger a no confidence vote in the PM.

Efforts to oust him are being led by a group of 2019 intake MPs, mostly from vulnerable Red Wall seats that are being targeted by Labour.

They are known as the “pork pie plotters” because one of the ringleader, Alicia Kearns, represents the town of Melton Mowbray.

This morning a dire new poll shows the Tories are on course for a wipe out in many of the Northern and Midlands seats they seized two years ago.

An AJL Partners survey for Channel 4 found the party would lose 42 of the 45 constituencies it gained in 2019 if an election were held now.

The PM’s personal rating has collapsed amongst voters in Red Wall seats and now sits on a shocking minus 35.

Today a junior minister admitted that he can “sympathise” with the rebels, and said the No 10 party scandal has made everyone angry.

Armed forces minister James Heappey, a former parliamentary private secretary to the PM, even acknowledged the PM’s excuses “sound absurd”.

But he suggested Boris may have been let down by staff who didn’t “have his back” when they let him attend the No 10 garden bash unawares.

He said: “I think everybody in Government, everybody in Parliament, is acutely concerned about what has happened and the reaction of the public.

“Our boss is not the Prime Minister. Our boss is those who send us to Westminster to represent us and they are furious at what they have heard.

“So it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that every single member of the Government, every single member of the party, is balancing those two loyalties.”

🔵 Read our UK politics live blog for the latest news and updates

Asked whether he had sympathy with 2019 MPs who were “battered on the doorstep” by constituents, Mr Heappey said: “We all were.

“I have sympathy with every colleague because this is not easy.

“This is extraordinarily difficult and my mail bag is like theirs, all our mail bags are like this.”

He revealed that he has received more than 500 letters from constituents about the PM’s behaviour.

And he added: “The overwhelming majority – at least nine in 10, if not 19 in 20 – are absolutely furious and cannot understand how all of this has happened.”

“I choose to believe what the Prime Minister has said. But I know that that’s not good enough for many of my constituents.”

PM in crisis

Mr Heappey said it was possible Sue Gray’s report into the parties could find Boris misled parliament.

He added: “Ministers know when they stand pat the despatch box they need to be accurate with their language. I sincerely hope the PM was.”

The No 10 party scandal has sparked the biggest crisis of Boris’ premiership and has seen the Tories slump in the polls.

Yesterday leading pollster Sir John Curtice warned the PM is unlikely to ever fully recover from the scandal in the eyes of the public.

No 10 is pinning its hopes on highlighting Boris’ record on Covid as he prepares to ditch most Plan B restrictions this afternoon.

All Plan B measures need lifting for good.

Lord Frost

The Cabinet is set to sign off on plans to scrap working from home guidance and vaccine passports at mass events.

But rules on wearing face masks on public transport and in shops are likely to stay until Omicron cases dip further.

And today there were signs that even this move won’t be enough to calm the anger felt by many backbench Tories.

Ex Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, a favourite of many Conservative MPs, insisted the PM’s move doesn’t go far enough.

He said: “It is good news if the Cabinet does decide this morning to lift some Plan B restrictions.

“But the job isn’t done if mask wearing remains in place. The evidence for masks is weak and the many downsides are persistently discounted.

“All Plan B measures need lifting *for good*.”

Boris Johnson apologises for parties at Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.