‘Sweeping debris off deck!’ Boris delays Cabinet reshuffle amid backbench partygate revolt

Boris Johnson: Tory MP quizzed on possible alternative to PM

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The Prime Minister has been left wounded by the publication of Sue Gray’s report into partygate as an increasing number of Tory MPs who are publicly calling for Mr Johnson to quit continue to speak out. Following significant losses to the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party in last month’s local elections, Mr Johnson told colleagues he was planning to shake-up his Cabinet team.

However, according to the Telegraph, the Prime Minister’s plans have been delayed as anti-Boris Tory MPs suggest enough letters may have been sent to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady to force a confidence vote.

One member of Mr Johnson’s inner circle told the broadsheet that July was now the earliest point at which a reshuffle would take place.

This would also mean a change to the Prime Minister’s top team would only come after by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton on June 23.

The source said: “We are focused on the what, not the who.”

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They added: “We are only just sweeping the debris off the deck.”

There are concerns having an immediate reshuffle could put the Prime Minister in a difficult position as former Cabinet colleagues may turn on Mr Johnson.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who backed Mr Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, was even spotted at an upmarket bar in west London where many Tory MPs were alleged to have gathered to discuss a plot to replace the Prime Minister with Jeremy Hunt.

Speaking to Mumsnet on Wednesday, Mr Johnson suggested he considered resigning after Ms Gray’s report was published.

He said: “If people look at the event in question, it felt to me like a work event.

“I was there for a very short period of time in the Cabinet Office at my desk and, you know, I was very, very surprised and taken aback to get a fixed penalty notice but of course I paid it.

“I think that on why am I still here, I’m still here because we’ve got huge pressures economically, we’ve got the biggest war in Europe for 80 years, and we’ve got a massive agenda to deliver which I was elected to deliver.

“I’ve thought about all these questions a lot, as you can imagine, and I just cannot see how actually it’d be responsible right now, given everything that is going on, simply to abandon the project on which I embarked.”

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However, a total of 18 MPs have submitted letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee, including previous Boris-backer Andrew Bridgen.

More than 40 MPs have questioned the Prime Minister’s position, 30 suggested they do not want him as leader and 28 have called for Mr Johnson to go now.

Nadine Dorries, who shed a tear when Mr Johnson dropped out of the 2016 Tory leadership contest, said a vote of no confidence would be an “indulgence” and attempts to remove the Prime Minister were doing the opposition’s work for them.

The Mid Bedfordshire MP told the BBC: “I can assure you that the overwhelming number of Conservative MPs are fully behind the Prime Minister, absolutely back him.

“There is obviously, I think probably led by one or two individuals, a campaign behind the scenes to try, attempt to remove the Prime Minister for individual reasons to do with personal ambition or other reasons.”

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