Caroline Nokes says Boris Johnson is 'damaging' Conservatives
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And Sir John warned the Prime Minister’s refusal during Prime Minister’s Questions to rule out the possibility of resignation will leave him with little room for manoeuvre if he is found to be at fault by civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating allegations concerning various social gatherings. The Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde was speaking after Mr Johnson admitted he had attended the event for 25 minutes on May 20, 2020, and said he was sorry for doing so.
Mr Johnson was presumably hoping his frank admission would put the issue to bed – but Tory MPs including William Wragg, the vice-chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee, subsequently said they had not been assuaged.
Sir John told Express.co.uk: “It’s well worth noting that, quite remarkably, Boris Johnson did not say he was not going to resign.
“He said he would wait for the Sue Gray report.
“In other words, he’s staking his job on that report – but who knows what she’s going to say and how she’s going to say it?
“Doubtless he’s hoping for something which provides him with some wriggle room.
“But he has, in effect, put his job on the line.”
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As for what happens next, Sir John said it largely depends on the mood within the Parliamentary Conservative Party, and especially the 1922 Committee, chaired by Sir Graham Brady.
To force a leadership contest, 15 percent of Tory MPs need to send letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson to Sir Graham.
Sir John said: “It’s in the hands of a combination of Tory MPs and his Cabinet – if his Cabinet were to rebel it’s all over, obviously.
“But it’s probably going to require 54 people to send Sir Graham Brady letters and of course none of us knows how many letters there are.
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“The other consideration is Tory MPs thinking about ‘well, what if we get rid of Boris what next?’ and some people may stay their hands because they’re not sure the answer to that question.
“Some may be saying ‘let’s limp along for a while and then get rid of him’, and obviously that’s been a calculation that’s been going on for a while.
“We’re probably not going to wake up tomorrow morning to Sir Graham Brady telling us he’s got 54 letters.”
After Mr Johnson’s appearance in the Commons, during which he said “believed implicitly” the gathering was “a work event,” senior Conservatives took to the airwaves and social media with praise for him amid fears over a Tory revolt.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was first out of the blocks to back her boss, saying an inquiry led by senior official Sue Gray must be allowed to go ahead.
Ms Dorries wrote on Twitter that the “PM was right to personally apologise earlier”.
She continued: “People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that.
“The inquiry should now be allowed to its work and establish the full facts of what happened.”
Responding to her message, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove: “Nadine is right.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who like Mr Sunak is widely seen as a possible replacement, said: “I stand behind the Prime Minister 100 percent as he takes our country forward.”
A Savanta ComRes study on Tuesday found 66 percent of British adults thought he should quit, with 24 percent saying he should stay, while a YouGov survey for Sky News found 56 percent believed he should go, with 27 percent saying he should remain.
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