Watch PMQs live: Tory MPs to decide PM’s future ‘in next few days’, says Sir Iain Duncan Smith


ory MPs will decide in the “next few days” whether Boris Johnson should remain Prime Minister, former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said, as he prepared to face a grilling in the House of Commons.

He condemned the series of “parties” in Downing Street as “appalling”.

Mr Duncan Smith also stressed that there should have been “serious leadership from all those relevant” to stop such a culture developing in No10 when Britain was in lockdown or under other Covid restrictions.

However, he also praised Mr Johnson’s leadership including on some of the decisions made during the Covid pandemic including on the vaccine roll-out and on resisting imposing tougher restrictions.

Speaking on Talk Radio about the “parties”, Mr Duncan Smith who was ousted as Tory leader in 2003, said: “I’m not going to make a judgement other than this was appalling. This should never have happened.

“The culture in Downing Street, both among civil servants and politicians, needed to have serious leadership from all those relevant.

“There should have been instructions nailed onto every single door on the basis that once you have finished work, go home.”

He also emphasised that Mr Johnson got some of the “big calls” right during the pandemic, including not imposing another lockdown before Christmas and the fast roll-out of jabs.

Live updates


Top Tories weigh in ahead of Gray report

Sir Bob Neill, Conservative MP for Bromley and Chiselhurst, tells our deputy political editor David Bond: “I’m genuinely open minded about which way this is going to go but the sooner it is sorted the better.”

But he added that the Gray report needed to be published in full.

“Subject to any necessary minor redactions then of course we should have full transparency. It’s in everyone’s interests – and that would require full publication.”

Tobias Ellwood, chair of Parliament’s Defence Committee and a vocal critic of Mr Johnson’s No10 operation, told the Standard he was waiting to see the outcome of the Gray inquiry before deciding what to do next.

He said: “We’ve been in a holding pattern as we wait for the Gray report to land. There is genuine collective nervousness, knowing all MPs will now be asked to respond.

“Many would have liked to see this impasse better used to introduce reforms to the No 10 operation that’s required to earn back the nation’s trust. We want to see genuine evidence that the culture in  No10 will be overhauled. We know we must embark on the colossal task of regrouping – the big question is how.”

Tobias Ellwood

/ PA Archive


Boris 16/1 to be ambushed by cake at PMQs

One of Boris Johnson’s closest allies has faced a wave of mockery today after stating the prime minister was “ambushed with a cake” during a lockdown “birthday bash” in Downing Street.

Senior Tories, opposition MPs and even TV cook Nigella Lawson rounded on Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns on Wednesday after he said Mr Johnson had not been involved in a “premeditated” party in No10.

Mr Johnson is set to face a grilling about No10 parties at PMQs at noon as the results of the Sue Gray inquiry loom.

Bookmaker Star Sports has Mr Johnson to be ambushed with cake during today’s Prime Minister’s Questions session at 16/1.

Meanwhile odds for the PM to resign by the end of the month have drifted from 3/1 to 6/1 overnight, according to Betfair.

The PM is 4/1 to face a vote of no confidence this month, but these could tumble if Sue Gray’s report is damning to his position.

Rishi Sunak is favourite to replace Johnson as the next Conservative leader, followed by foreign secretary Liz Truss. Jacob Rees-Mogg is the outsider at 94/1.


Two-thirds of Britons want Johnson to resign – poll

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of Britons want Boris Johnson to resign over the partygate scandal, according to a new Survation poll.

Among those who voted Conservative, the figure stood at 47 per cent – rising to 51 per cent if a police investigation concludes that Downing Street officials broke the law.


Johnson staying in power ‘is in the interests of the country’, says Tory MP

A variety of opinions from the Conservative party on Boris Johnson’s premiership on show this morning.

Andrew Rosindell, the Tory MP for Romford, claimed it is “in the interests of the country” for the PM to remain in power.

He told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “The Prime Minister was elected two years ago two get on with the job of governing our country,” he told Sky’s Kay Burley. 

“I think most people want him to do things to sort the country out, get the country back on track.

“There’s massive issues we face today and yet all I hear about is people talking about certain members of staff having parties in gardens and birthday cake. Really, are we going to drag another Prime Minister out of office on something like that? Frankly, I think we need to move on from this.

“The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has not committed some horrendous, terrible crime that deserves the entire Government to be derailed with months of leadership election… lots of upheaval, lots of uncertainty. This is not in the interests of our country.

“I’m sure there are ministers that get parking tickets and speed fines too, they break the law… Lots of people break the law in small ways, sometimes unintentionally. I just think this is not… you know, he’s not robbed a bank. This is getting out of control.”


Lockdown birthday party is ‘unedifying’ for PM, says Tory MP

Conservative MP Matt Warman agreed that recent accusations about Prime Minister Boris Johnson having a birthday party during lockdown are “unedifying”.

He told Times Radio: “I definitely think it’s unedifying. I definitely think it’s a huge distraction from all the really important work that the Government is doing and needs to get on with.

“I suppose that is one of the reasons why the PM commissioned Sue Gray’s report in the first place… because he recognises the need to draw a line and to establish some of the facts.”

Asked what he will do next if it is found that Mr Johnson misled Parliament, Mr Warman said that “prejudging both the inquiry and the Metropolitan Police work is not a helpful starting point”.

“I think what we should be doing is establishing those facts and then looking at them at that point, rather than saying ‘Well, here’s a series of ever more or less unlikely hypotheticals’,” he added.


‘Ambushed with cake should be name of my new book’, says Nigella

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson mocked Tory MP Conor Burns after he said the Prime Minister had been “ambushed with a cake”, suggesting he had inspired the name of her new cookbook.

She tweeted: “Ambushed by Cake: it just has to be the title of my next book!”

Mr Burns responded, tweeting: “It’s yours if you want it! Could I include my Granny’s Christmas cake recipe?”

However, Lawson did not appear impressed by Mr Burns’ light-hearted approach to the matter of Downing Street parties.

“This is just too meta. Plus, you think it’s a joke? Says it all”, read her reply.


Assistant whip ‘genuinely doesn’t recognise’ blackmail allegations

Former assistant Government whip Matt Warman said he “genuinely doesn’t recognise” the accusations of blackmail that have been made against the Conservative party whips.

He told Times Radio: “I genuinely don’t recognise it. We all heard the ancient history of the Government whip’s office during Maastricht and decades ago when there was an immensely different culture.

“That is a world away from the whip’s office that I was in or anyone’s been in for a long, long time.

“Does it depress me that these are the sorts of stories that are bandied around? Yes, it does. Does that make them true? No, it doesn’t.”


‘Starmer would not have held lockdown parties’, says shadow minister

Labour’s shadow minister for education has said that Sir Keir Starmer would not have allowed parties to go ahead in Downing Street during lockdown if he was prime minister.

Bridget Phillipson told Times Radio that the “culture starts from the top” and ultimately Boris Johnson bore responsibility for the alleged gatherings.

Ms Philipson told Times Radio: “There will be processes that are right to follow when you come to people’s employment and the work of civil servants, but that culture starts at the top.

“It’s from the top down. It’s the kind of culture that was allowed to continue within Downing Street.

“I can tell you if Keir Starmer had been prime minister at that point, when the whole country was under lockdown, there wouldn’t have been parties going on in the garden in Number 10, (of) that I’m sure.”


Chairman of Standards committee says Boris believes he is ‘above the law’

The chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards accused the Prime Minister of believing he is “above the law” as he condemned the “utterly despicable” partygate saga.

Chris Bryant voiced anger about the Government’s handling of alleged lockdown breaches in Number 10 at a time when an international crisis is unfolding in Ukraine and said Boris Johnson’s moral authority has “completely eroded”.

“This is why it’s utterly despicable that we’ve had to go through all of this, because you’ve got the complete erosion of the Prime Minister’s moral authority because of this pattern of behaviour,” he said.

“It’s so disrespectful to the bus drivers, the nurses in ICU and everybody else that Tory MPs come on the air and say ‘Well, all these people in Downing Street, we’re working terribly hard.’ Well, I’m sorry, everybody was working terribly hard.”

He added: “I was in Ukraine last week. I think people are fearful for their lives and it makes me angry that the Prime Minister thinks he’s above the law.”


GMB empty chair Liz Truss

ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme has empty chaired Liz Truss after she refused to go on the show as part of her ministerial broadcast round.

The Foreign Secretary did appear on Sky News and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this morning.


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