Boris Johnson ‘in quite a lot of trouble’ says John Curtice
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Boris Johnson, 57, has come under increasing pressure following reports Downing Street held festive parties last Christmas while England faced coronavirus restrictions prohibiting large gatherings. Ex-Downing Street press secretary Allegra Stratton, 41, resigned from her Number 10 position after the former journalist joked about a “fictional” party “with no social distancing” in leaked footage from Downing Street’s £2.6million briefing room.
But the Prime Minister could face yet another resignation after a report in the Financial Times suggested Lord Christopher Geidt, 60, could quit from his position as an independent adviser on ministerial standards.
The broadsheet revealed Lord Geidt was left feeling “deeply unhappy” over concerns he may have been misled by Mr Johnson during his separate investigation into the flat refurbishment above Number 11.
The crossbencher carried out the review earlier this year and cleared the Prime Minister of breaching the ministerial code.
Lord Geidt had accepted Mr Johnson’s claim he believed the refurbishment was funded through a charitable trust.
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The Prime Minister was also said to have been distracted as the country was in “the middle of a pandemic” and the project was being overseen by Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds, 33.
However, the Electoral Commission fined the Tory Party £17,800 on Thursday for failing to adequately declare a £52,801.72 donation from Lord David Brownlow’s company Huntswood Associates Limited.
The Electoral Commission claims to have seen a WhatsApp message from the Prime Minister to Mr Brownlow asking him “to authorise further refurbishment works on the residence”.
Mr Bronlow complied with the request.
But the exchange also calls into question Mr Johnson’s claim he “knew nothing” about the flat payments until they were reported in February.
Mr Johnson is now facing onslaughts on three fronts, with the Prime Minister facing a backbench backlash over coronavirus restrictions and pressure over last Christmas’ festive parties.
Lord Geidt’s predecessor Sir Alex Allan, 70, also quit from the independent post after he disagreed with the Prime Minister over whether Home Secretary Priti Patel, 49, had broken the ministerial code following allegations the Witham MP had been bullying staff.
Despite concerns about Lord Geidt’s future, Mr Johnson’s spokesperson denied the Prime Minister lied and claimed he “acted in accordance with the rules at all times”.
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A Downing Street spokesperson added: “Lord Brownlow was the chair of a blind trust and acted in accordance with his experience of managing blind trusts in that way.
“The Prime Minister’s discussions with Lord Brownlow were done without him knowing the underlying donor of that donation.”
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