Boris Johnson will impose a workplace booze ban in No 10 as he launches a fightback aimed at saving his premiership.
The Prime Minister will promise to address the Downing Street drinking culture as part of a wider shake-up in the wake of the party scandal.
No 10 is braced for a difficult week with fears Tory MPs will return to Westminster today having spent the weekend been barracked by their constituents over the row.
Former minister Tim Loughton yesterday became the sixth Conservative backbencher to call for Mr Johnson to quit.
The Prime Minister is planning a blitz of policy announcements in the next fortnight in a bid to seize the initiative, dubbed ‘Operation Red Meat’.
That began last night with the news that the Armed Forces will take control of tackling migrant boats in the Channel.
Mr Johnson is believed to be preparing a cull of his inner circle. Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary (pictured above) who sent an email inviting staff to ‘bring your own booze’ in the No 10 garden during the first lockdown, and chief-of-staff Dan Rosenfield, are among those seen at risk.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains under major pressure over the Number 10 party row as he plots to stabilise his premiership
Labour now has a 10 point lead over the Tories – its biggest advantage over the Conservatives since 2013
Alongside this, Mr Johnson is believed to be preparing a cull of his inner circle after the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into so-called ‘Partygate’, which could come this week.
Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary who sent an email inviting staff to ‘bring your own booze’ in the No 10 garden during the first lockdown, and chief-of-staff Dan Rosenfield, are among those seen at risk.
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said yesterday the Prime Minister will seek to ‘address the underlying culture in Downing Street’ that led to the scandal.
He admitted there were ‘failings’ in No 10, but denied it was a resigning matter for Mr Johnson.
Mr Dowden told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: ‘The Prime Minister is… determined to make sure that this can’t be allowed to happen and that we address the underlying culture in Downing Street.’
But Mr Loughton, a former children’s minister, said ‘terminal damage’ had been done to Mr Johnson.
‘In this case all roads lead back to Downing Street and the person whose name is on the front door,’ the East Worthing and Shoreham MP said yesterday.
For a leadership contest to be triggered, 54 letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson have to be submitted by Tory MPs to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 backbench committee.
Tory whips were accused of using ‘dirty tricks’ last night to stop letters being sent, as MPs first elected in 2019 said they have been warned No 10 would find out if they sent one.
This is despite the fact letters are received in confidence by Sir Graham, who does not publicly state how many he has received.
An MP in the 2019 intake said: ‘It tells you how desperate things have got they are resorting to these underhand tactics. If anything, these sorts of dirty tricks make colleagues more determined to stand up to No 10.’
Downing Street last night dismissed suggestions Mr Johnson had not been totally upfront in his apology last Wednesday, in which he said he attended the May 20 garden party for 25 minutes but understood it to be a ‘work event’.
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, has called for Mr Johnson to resign over the party row
Labour is piling the pressure on the Tories over the revelations. It has published a new campaign poster claiming the ‘Tories Aren’t Working’
A report in the Sunday Times claimed he was warned by ‘at least two people’ that the event being organised in Mr Reynolds’ email amounted to ‘a party’ and should be cancelled – but he dismissed the concerns as an overreaction, praising his private secretary as ‘my loyal labrador’.
A No 10 spokesman last night said: ‘It is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event in advance.’
The Lib Dems said they have tabled a motion stating Parliament has no confidence in the PM.
The party wants Tory MPs to back it in a bid to have it debated in the Commons, with leader Sir Ed Davey pushing for a vote on Wednesday.
Carrie on partying! PM’s wife is accused of breaking social distancing rules while celebrating a friend’s engagement
Carrie Johnson has been accused of breaching social distancing rules when she celebrated a friend’s engagement just days after the public were warned to keep their distance from people they don’t live with.
Mrs Johnson, 33, the wife of Prime Minister Boris, had been at an engagement celebration for her friend Anna Pinder on September 17, 2020 at The Conduit, a private members’ club in Covent Garden, London.
Mrs Johnson, whose arm is wrapped around Ms Pinder in a picture that circulated online, appears to laugh with her friend as they pose for the snap on a sofa on the club’s outdoor terrace.
At the time, Brits had been warned that the country was on the cusp of a second wave of Covid infections.
Two metre social distancing guidance and the rule of six, meaning groups of more than half a dozen were restricted from meeting for anything other than work, education or weddings and funerals, were also still in place in September 2020.
Days before the happy friends were pictured smiling together on their night out, Mr Johnson hosted a press conference in which he reminded the British public they ‘should keep your distance from anyone you don’t live with’.
A spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson told the Telegraph she ‘regrets the momentary lapse’ of judgement that saw her openly hug her friend despite the guidance in place at the time.