After Pork Pie Plot, it’s the Cream Tea Coup! Downing Street fears new plan to oust Boris Johnson

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After Pork Pie Plot, it’s the Cream Tea Coup! Downing Street fears new plan to oust Boris Johnson

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Downing Street feared last night that a co-ordinated plot was trying to bring down Boris Johnson after a string of Tory MPs went public in calling for

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Downing Street feared last night that a co-ordinated plot was trying to bring down Boris Johnson after a string of Tory MPs went public in calling for him to resign.

In what was dubbed ‘the Cream Tea Coup’, two Devon MPs formed part of a trio who demanded that the Prime Minister quit over Partygate.

Sir Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall and Tobias Ellwood all revealed that they were submitting letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership.

The number of MPs who have publicly called for the PM to step down now stands at 14, including seven who say they have put in letters to demand a ballot on whether he should be ousted.

Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries last dismissed the rebels as a ‘handful of egos’ who ‘want to make it all about them’. The Culture Secretary said: ‘The defining mission of the PM and this government is to level up the whole of the UK. On the very day we are setting out steps to make this happen, a handful of egos want to make it all about them. It’s selfish, doing Labour’s work and it’s really not helping their constituents.’

DOWNING Street feared last night that a co-ordinated plot was trying to bring down Boris Johnson after a string of Tory MPs went public in calling for him to resign

Tobias Ellwood (pictured), who has himself been accused of attending a lockdown-busting party, was the first to break cover in the new plot

Sir Gary Streeter (right) and Anthony Mangnall (left) revealed that they were submitting letters of no confidence in Mr  Johnson’s leadership

Downing Street had hoped that the publication of Sue Gray’s updated Partygate findings on Monday would allow the PM to move on from the row as the Government battles crises over energy bills, the cost of living and Ukraine.

However, on Tuesday, Tory MP Peter Aldous announced he had submitted a letter calling for the PM to resign, while Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said there was so much anger over what happened that Mr Johnson should consider whether the country could heal better if he left No 10.

They were followed by the three MPs yesterday in what threatens to become a drip-drip of opposition to the PM.

Which Tory MPs have called for a confidence vote in the PM?  

PUBLICLY CONFIRMED SENDING LETTER  

Gary Streeter 

Anthony Mangnall 

Tobias Ellwood 

Peter Aldous 

Andrew Bridgen 

Douglas Ross

Roger Gale

CALLED FOR THE PM TO QUIT BUT NOT CONFIRMED SENDING LETTERS

David Davis

Andrew Mitchell

William Wragg 

Tim Loughton 

Caroline Nokes  

THOUGHT TO HAVE SENT LETTERS

Charles Walker 

Aaron Bell  

Mr Ellwood, who has himself been accused of attending a lockdown-busting party, was the first to break cover yesterday. The former minister, who chairs the Commons defence committee, hit out at the ‘horrible’ situation of having to ‘continuously… defend’ Mr Johnson to the British public.

Appearing on Sky News just before 9am, Mr Ellwood suggested Mr Johnson should ‘take a grip’ of the situation and call a vote of confidence in himself.

Mr Mangnall, who represents Totnes, joined the revolt shortly before 3pm. The 2019-intake MP tweeted: ‘Standards in public life matter. At this time I can no longer support the PM. His actions and mistruths are overshadowing the extraordinary work of so many excellent ministers and colleagues.’

Then at 5pm on the dot, longstanding MP Sir Gary revealed he had also submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

‘I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street,’ he said.

Senior party sources last night dubbed the effort to remove Mr Johnson as the ‘Cream Tea Coup’ because Sir Gary and Mr Mangnall are both Devon MPs.

A Downing Street insider conceded they feared the push to oust Mr Johnson was being coordinated, but they played down the significance of the three letters being submitted yesterday, saying none of the trio was a ‘big surprise’. A confidence vote will be triggered if Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, receives 54 letters, which is 15 per cent of the parliamentary party.

The Daily Mail revealed in December 2020 that Mr Ellwood attended a Christmas dinner for 27 guests at a London club.

The Iraq Britain Business Council described the event at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly on its website as its ‘Christmas Party’. But Mr Ellwood, who gave a speech, insisted it was a ‘business meeting’ that was allowed under the tier two restrictions that applied at the time.

An attempt by MPs in the 2019 intake to unseat the PM last month was nicknamed the Pork Pie Plot because of the involvement of Alicia Kearns, who represents Melton Mowbray.

The alleged coup came as a poll found that almost two thirds of voters (61 per cent) think Mr Johnson should resign over Partygate.

Some 78 per cent want Miss Gray’s report on the scandal to be published in full, according to surveys carried out by J L Partners. Four in five Britons believe the PM ‘broke the coronavirus regulations with parties in Downing Street’.

More than half (55 per cent) of the 2,000 respondents said the investigation into the Downing Street parties should continue, while 36 per cent believed the country must now move on from the allegations.

Despite the ousting plot, Mr Johnson is vowing he will fight on, insisting he will stay until the next election.

He told The Sun: ‘I am getting on with the job and I will do so for as long as I have the privilege and honour to serve in this position.’

But the prme minister is still facing more Partygate woe with claims he was seen heading for the ‘Winner Takes It All’ Abba party thrown in his Downing Street flat to celebrate the fall of Dominic Cummings.

Mr Johnson has also been accused of attending a Prosecco-fuelled leaving party in No10 while country was in the midst of the strict post-Christmas lockdown.

Keir Starmer goaded Mr Johnson about the crisis at PMQs, while he condemned the lack of action to ease the cost of living pain for households.

‘The Prime Minister might want to sharpen how he answers questions under interview – he’s going to need it in the next few weeks,’ the Labour leader said.  

On another rollercoaster day of political drama: 

  • Mr Johnson said he was ‘very sad’ his former spokeswoman Allegra Stratton resigned as he faced questions about Partygate at PMQs;
  • Pictures exist of Mr Johnson at Downing Street parties being investigated by police, his former adviser Dominic Cummings claimed during an online Q&A;
  • Mr Gove has ruled out running for the Tory leadership again in future, joking: ‘Been there, knocked back twice, won’t be doing that again.’ 
  • Top civil servant Antonia Romeo is reported to be snubbing a job as the head of a new Prime Minister’s Office being set up by Mr Johnson; 
  • A poll by JL Partners has found just 36 per cent of Britong believe it is time to ‘move on’ from Partygate and 61 per cent still think Mr Johnson should resign; 
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki mocked Mr Johnson saying Joe Biden has ‘never been ambushed by a cake’ as she responded to a question on the lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street
  • TV channels in Russia seized on the furore saying Mr Johnson is ‘the most disliked, disrespected and ridiculed character in Britain’ who was ‘completely under the control and heel of his young wife’ Carrie;

Boris Johnson’s future was plunged further into doubt today as two more Tory MPs called for a no-confidence vote amid fresh Partygate revelations

Totnes and South Devon MP Anthony Mangnall lashed out at the PM’s ‘mistruths’ as he declared he is submitting a letter to 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady

Tobias Ellwood (right) has become the latest Tory to confirm he is sending a letter of no confidence in the PM. The PM’s swipe at Keir Starmer (left) for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile has angered many Tories who view it as a ‘slur’ 

Tories demand Boris withdraws Jimmy Savile ‘slur’ at Keir Starmer as Gove admits Labour leader ‘did the right thing’ on CPS failures 

Boris Johnson today batted away calls to withdraw his Jimmy Savile ‘slur’ at Keir Starmer despite anger from Tories and the Speaker.

The PM caused a storm in the Commons on Monday when he jibed that the Labour leader had ‘spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile‘ when he was head of the CPS.

Sir Keir denounced the attack as a ‘ridiculous slur peddled by Right-wing trolls’ and claimed Mr Johnson had ‘debased’ himself. 

But Mr Johnson has insisted: ‘As far as I’m aware, it’s fairly accurate.’ 

In a round of interviews this morning, Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave the premier limited support saying he did not need to apologise.  

But he said he ‘respected’ Sir Keir’s position. ‘In a uniquely sensitive case Keir Starmer acknowledged that mistakes had been made by the organisation of which he was head. To his credit he was very clear about those mistakes,’ he told Sky News.

‘He brought in an independent lawyer to look at that. And I think that we should recognise that in doing that he did the right thing.’

Deputy PM Dominic Raab also seemed uncomfortable about the row yesterday, saying he could not ‘substantiate’ the swipe. 

Senior Conservative MP Simon Hoare said today that ‘the Jimmy Savile false allegation should be withdrawn’. 

Yesterday former chief whip Julian Smith called on the PM to withdraw the ‘false and baseless’ attack.

‘The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended,’ he said. 

‘It should be withdrawn. False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust and can’t just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.’ 

Former transport minister Stephen Hammond weighed in: ‘Julian is right and I would encourage the PM to apologise and withdraw the comment.’ 

Mr Johnson’s ‘slur’ in the Commons on Monday that Sir Keir had failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile seems to have heightened anger, with Conservative MP Simon Hoare among those demanding the premier retracts it. One former minister told MailOnline that many were now convinced that Mr Johnson cannot change.

‘The lawyers in the party say he is incorrect,’ the MP said. ‘I understand they practised this in No10 and he was told ”don’t go there”. A number of colleagues are saying this just won’t work. He freelances and you cannot control that.’  

Sir Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said there was now so much anger over so-called Partygate that Mr Johnson should consider whether the country would ‘heal better’ if he left No 10.

However the MP for Broxbourne stopped short of directly calling for the premier’s resignation, saying he had got ‘many things right’, such as the vaccines and lifting of lockdown, adding that leaving the top job would be ‘his decision’. 

Mr Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, told Sky News: ‘This is just horrible for all MPs to continuously have to defend this to the British public.

‘The Government’s acknowledged the need for fundamental change, culture, make-up, discipline, the tone of Number 10, but the strategy has been one, it seems, of survival, of rushed policy announcements like the Navy taking over the migrant Channel crossings.

‘And attacking this week Keir Starmer with Jimmy Savile… I mean who advised the Prime Minister to say this? We’re better than this, we must seek to improve our standards and rise above where we are today.’

He added: ‘I don’t think the Prime Minister realises how worried colleagues are in every corner of the party, backbenchers and ministers alike, that this is all only going one way and will invariably slide towards a very ugly place.

‘I believe it’s time for the Prime Minister to take a grip of this; he himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be eventually submitted.

‘It’s time to resolve this completely so the party can get back to governing, and, yes, I know the next question you will ask, I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee.’

Another northern Tory MP told MailOnline that they expected a ‘trickle’ of people declaring they have sent letters, but the real tally would be much higher. ‘I suspect there ate plenty more in who won’t say publicly,’ the added. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the police ‘will determine the ultimate truth of this matter’ after new allegations over lockdown parties in Downing Street. 

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast: ‘There’s a limit to what I can say because there’s an ongoing Met Police investigation.’ 

Sue Gray’s initial report into the Partygate scandal revealed a number of Downing Street events that were not previously reported.

This included the January 2021 leaving do held for ‘the departure of two No 10 private secretaries’, but the redacted report revealed no further information.

Sources have now told The Guardian the party was held for a senior policy adviser who left Downing Street to becoming a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In a round of interviews this morning, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the police ‘will determine the ultimate truth of this matter’ after new allegations over lockdown parties in Downing Street

Senior Conservative MP Simon Hoare said today that ‘the Jimmy Savile false allegation should be withdrawn’

Carrie and Boris Johnson are said to have attended the Downing Street flat party held on November 13, 2020, to celebrate the departure of Dominic Cummings, it has been claimed 

Vice chairman of Tory 1922 Committee says he would ‘applaud’ embattled PM if he ‘stood aside’

Sir Charles Walker (pictured), the vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said there was now so much anger over the furore that Mr Johnson should consider whether the country would ‘heal better’ if he left No 10

A tenth Conservative MP submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister yesterday as another called on him to show ‘great courage’ and resign.

Boris Johnson was last night warned he is ‘on probation’ over Partygate as Peter Aldous, who represents Waveney in Suffolk, became the latest Tory to formally call for him to resign.

Several other Tory MPs also offered criticism of Mr Johnson, denting hopes in Downing Street that his apology over the Partygate row had calmed tempers.

Sir Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, last night announced he will quit Parliament as he urged the PM to stand down.

He said Mr Johnson would show ‘great courage’ if he chose to resign. ‘I think people are angry, I think there’s a lot of grief, pain and anxiety out in the country,’ he told Channel 4 News.

He refused to reveal if he had sent a letter of no confidence to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady but said he would not stand at the next election.

Mr Johnson is said to have gave a speech in which he thanked the official for their work and stayed at the party for around five minutes.

Another party being investigated by police took place on June 18, 2020, to mark the departure of No 10 private secretary Hannah Young, who left to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York, according to The Telegraph.

Some 20 people are believed to have attended and alcohol was drunk by the party guests, with one source claiming the party was ‘raucous’.

At the time, indoor gatherings were forbidden, while six people were allowed to meet outside.

One of the guests is believed to have been Martin Reynolds, the top civil servant who is already under fire for organising the ‘BYOB’ garden party at Downing Street.  

He reportedly contacted senior advisers asking whether to hold a leaving drinks for Ms Young.

As part of Sue Gray’s probe, a number of No 10 staff are believed to have been interviewed about the party. 

A witness is said to have told Ms Gray that the Prime Minister went upstairs towards the ‘victory party’ held by friends of Carrie Johnson on the night of November 13, 2020, after Mr Cummings had left No 10 with his belongings in a box. On a visit to Ukraine yesterday Mr Johnson refused to comment on whether he was at the event. 

Insiders say police, who are already sifting through 300 photos – some said to include the PM – and 500 documents, would be able to confirm his attendance using CCTV and a keypad to the flat’s door. 

Mr Johnson flew to Ukraine yesterday despite the growing turmoil, saying he will fight to remain as PM regardless of the police conclusions.

Police said they do not intend to reveal the identity of those who may lockdown fines, but Mr Johnson told The Sun he did not ‘believe that would be a secret for very long’. 

Scotland Yard made clear that it will follow police guidelines that people who receive fixed penalty notices are not routinely identified – suggesting that government officials would not be named.

Mr Johnson was branded a ‘running joke on the international stage’ at PMQs today.

Speaking in the Commons, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: ‘We have now reached the ridiculous scenario of a Prime Minister who can’t even tell us where he was.

‘He lives in a world where he thinks everything is owed to him and he never pauses to think what he owes to the public. The Prime Minister is now a dangerous distraction at home and a running joke on the international stage.’

He added: ‘What does it tell the Prime Minister and the public that in the morning that he has returned from Ukraine, the chair of the Defence Select Committee has submitted a letter of no confidence in him?’

Mr Johnson said: ‘It tells me that it is more vital than ever for the Government of this country to get on with the job, deliver our Covid recovery plan and that is what we are doing.’

The premier also said he was ‘very sad’ that his former official spokeswoman Allegra Stratton resigned as he faced questions about partygate at PMQs.

Pressed by an Opposition MP on why Ms Stratton had to quit if there was no wrongdoing, Mr Johnson said: ‘I explained that sad matter on the floor of the House. Nobody wanted Allegra to resign. I was very sad that she did.’

The pressure is intensifying on Mr Johnson, with Mr Aldous breaking cover last night to announce he has lost confidence.  

‘After a great deal of soul-searching, I have reached the conclusion that the Prime Minister should resign,’ the Waveney MP tweeted. 

‘It is clear that he has no intention of doing so and I have therefore written to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Backbench Conservative MPs, advising him that I have no confidence in the Prime Minister as Leader of the Conservative Party.’ 

Former minister Sir Gary Streeter said he was ‘wrestling with my conscience’ over whether to give Mr Johnson his continued support.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said that even on the limited evidence in the public domain it was ‘very clear that none of this is acceptable, excusable, or defensible’. 

He said Mr Johnson had his support for now and that it was not the time to depose the Prime Minister, but that a line could not be drawn under the saga until the full report was published. 

Former No10 chief Dominic Cummings has also claimed photos exist of the PM at the parties under investigation. 

Speaking to followers in an online Q and A on the Substack website, Mr Cummings said that an alleged event in the couple’s No11 flat on November 13, 2020 – where Carrie and friends celebrated his sacking – could be heard from offices below. 

Scotland Yard last night revealed it has received 300 photos as part of its probe into 12 events in Downing Street in 2020 and 20201. 

In response to questions about the report, Cummings wrote: ‘Yes there are photos of the PM at parties under investigation. I’ve spoken to people who say they’ve seen photos of parties in the flat.

‘I’ve talked to people who were in No10 on 13/11 who could hear the party in No10 after I’d left – the press office is below the flat. If cops talk to people there that night, there’ll be witnesses who say ”we could all hear a party with Abba playing”.’

He accused the PM of ‘lying’ and added: ‘This could blow up terminally for him if lies to the cops but he wont be able to help himself other than say ”I don’t remember’ which is his default when he senses danger.’ 

He also used the lengthy ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) session to accuse the PM of habitually lying to Mrs Johnson and blaming it on him.

Pictured: Boris Johnson and staff pictured with wine in Downing Street garden in May 2020

He also threatened to speak out during any leadership election, should Mr Johnson quit or be forced from office.  

It came as Downing Street tonight caved into pressure by confirming Mr Johnson would publicly admit to receiving a police fined over Partygate if he receives one – as another MP declared sending a no-confidence letter  

Mr Cummings said there was ‘no excuse for self-delusions’ about Boris Johnson.

The former chief aide said ‘at this point the blame lies mostly with the Tory MPs’.

He said: ‘He’s obviously totally unfit for the job and every day he’s left their moral authority drops another notch.’

But he added: ‘There’s lots of blame to go around beyond them, including people in no10 who have also shown a distinct lack of moral courage…’

On Sue Gray limited report, he said: ‘So far as I know she’s done a professional job in appalling circumstances.’

Addressing his feud with Mrs Johnson he went on to accuse the PM of lying to her and laying the blame with his aide. 

‘It’s important to realise that he lied to her about a lot of things and blamed me/us to her for things,’ he wrote.

‘A small example. I was told one day ”Carrie’s enraged you’ve blocked her from doing an interview”. Eh, what interview, I haven’t heard about any interview, I haven’t blocked anything. Mmm. 

‘I speak to Boris alone. What’s this about some interview Carrie wants to do? Immediately the guilty face and smile. Ahhh oh yeah errr what about it? (He’s not sure what I know.) 

‘Have you told Carrie I’ve blocked her from doing it? (Ruffles hair) Errr oh well I met have said something that gave her that impression, errr, sorry matey, arghhh it’s such a nightmare up there… Why do you do these stupid things, now she’s ranting to people about me again and it’s nothing to do with me, don’t you see how destructive all this is you idiot? Yeah yeah really sorry I’ll tell her… But obviously he didn’t.

‘This sort of thing is constant. So while it’s true that I think Carrie has been a dreadful influence, and it was incredibly foolish of her to start a briefing war with me and others, it’s also only fair to point out that he lies to her all the time about stuff and she’s often operating on duff information herself. This is obviously an incredibly toxic combination.’ 

Sue Gray (left) has finally delivered her findings on Partygate to the PM – but made clear she wants to release more information after the police probe completes. Last week the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (right) announced officers have launched a criminal inquiry after assessing a dossier of evidence compiled by Ms Gray

Tory backbencher, Peter Aldous (pictured), MP for Waveney, revealed he had submitted a letter to the chairman of the 1922 Sir Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence in the PM

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said Biden has ‘never been ambushed by a cake’ as she responded to a question on the lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street

Which Whitehall parties are being probed by the Metropolitan Police and which are not?

The Sue Gray update on the Partygate scandal has revealed the Metropolitan Police has launched formal probes into the overwhelming majority of alleged Covid rule-busting gatherings in Number 10 and Whitehall. 

Below is a breakdown of which events are now subject to a criminal investigation and which have been deemed not to meet that threshold. 

The gatherings which ARE being probed by the police 

– May 20, 2020: BYOB garden party

The revelation came in an email, leaked to ITV, from senior civil servant Martin Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to ‘bring your own booze’ for an evening gathering.

The PM has admitted attending the gathering, but previously insisted he believed it was a work event which could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.

– June 18, 2020: Cabinet Office gathering

Ms Gray’s report revealed that a gathering in the Cabinet Office on this date is being investigated by the police. It has not previously been reported on. 

The event was apparently held to mark the departure of a Number 10 private secretary. 

– June 19, 2020: Birthday party for the PM

A Downing Street spokesman admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room after a meeting. A report from ITV News suggested up to 30 people attended and the PM was presented with a cake. 

The broadcaster suggested the PM’s wife, Carrie Johnson, had organised the surprise get-together. Reports said Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of Mr and Mrs Johnson’s No 10 flat, briefly attended while undertaking work in Downing Street.

ITV News also reported that later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to further celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday in his official residence.

Number 10 previously said: ‘This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.’

The police probe relates specifically to the gathering in the Cabinet Room.    

– November 13, 2020: Leaving party for senior aide

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.

– November 13, 2020: Johnsons’ flat party

There are allegations that the Prime Minister’s then fiancee hosted parties in their flat, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 – the night Dominic Cummings departed Number 10.

A spokesman for Mrs Johnson has previously called the claim ‘total nonsense’.

– December 17, 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’

A number of outlets reported that a gathering was held in the Cabinet Office on December 17.

The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the party in room 103 of the Cabinet Office, that it had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was included in digital calendars as: ‘Christmas party!’

The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz took place, but a spokesman said: ‘The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.’

– December 17, 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head

The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce said she was ‘truly sorry’ over an evening gathering in the Cabinet Office for her leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.

Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she gathered with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she was co-operating with the Ms Gray’s probe.

– December 17, 2020: Number 10 leaving do

The Sue Gray update said the police are also probing a gathering in Downing Street held to mark the departure of a Number 10 official on December 17.

– December 18, 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street

The claim that kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.

Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the PM is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference. 

– January 14, 2021: Number 10 leaving do for two staff members

A previously unreported gathering is being probed by the police. The Sue Gray update revealed an event in Downing Street for the departure of two Number 10 private secretaries is being looked at by the police. 

– April 16, 2021: Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.

They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.

Mr Slack, who left his Number 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.

The Telegraph quoted a Number 10 spokesman as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.

The newspaper reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.

The four alleged parties which are not being investigated by the police  

– May 15, 2020: Downing Street ‘cheese and wine’ party

The PM, his wife Carrie, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, were all pictured, in a photograph leaked to The Guardian, sitting around a table in the Number 10 garden, with wine and cheese in front of them.

Some 15 other people were also in the photograph, but the Prime Minister has insisted this was a work meeting, saying: ‘Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.’ 

– November 27, 2020: Second staff leaving do

The Mirror reported that the PM gave a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November while the lockdown in England was still in place.

Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings. 

– December 10, 2020: Department for Education party

The DfE confirmed a social event happened after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.

A spokesman acknowledged that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.

– December 15, 2020: Downing Street quiz

The PM appeared on contestants’ screens at the quiz but has insisted he broke no rules.

An image published by the Sunday Mirror showed Mr Johnson flanked by two colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in Number 10.

Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson ‘briefly’ attended the quiz after the photographic evidence emerged but insisted it was a virtual event.    

SARAH VINE: I fear a hard rain for court of Carrie… if I were Boris Johnson’s wife, I’d watch my back

Boris Johnson is many things, but he’s not stupid. He knows Partygate has cost him dear and he’s not out of the woods yet.

He has to get serious if he wants a chance of rescuing his premiership, and he has to do so fast. He has to show the public — and his own MPs — that the jovial, blustering, chancer of old is gone (or at least locked in a back bedroom).

Preparing to leave for Ukraine, he told MPs: ‘I want the lot out — all of this toxic vomit ejected.’ He’s setting up a new Prime Ministerial office, and that infamous drinks fridge is no more. The music’s off, the lights are on, the taxis are waiting.

Perhaps the strongest indicator of this new direction is the re-appointment of Sir Lynton Crosby, who will be advising on the running of Downing Street.

Boris Johnson is many things, but he’s not stupid. He knows Partygate has cost him dear and he’s not out of the woods yet. Pictured: Mr Johnson holds a press conference with the Ukrainian Prime Minister following talks in Kyiv

Having been at several parties over the years where Sir Lynton has been in attendance, I can tell you: Fun he ain’t.

The man is a human hangover. And not just a mild headache and craving for a fry-up type — he’s a full-blown Jägerbomb thumper.

He is a master of the dark arts, and bringing him back shows Boris means business. If I were Dominic Cummings, I’d be worried.

If I were Carrie, I’d also watch my back. Because Lynton doesn’t do other halves. He is not a kisser of babies, and has zero interest in his clients’ private lives. He’s there to do a job, and do it he will — regardless of who gets in the way.

He will take a cold, hard look at Carrie and will conclude — fairly or unfairly — that she is the Prime Minister’s weakness. That Boris loves her and can’t say no to her.

That she is a beautiful, vivacious young woman who loves dancing to ABBA; who wants Boris to spend time with her and their children; who likes to spend money on holidays and home furnishings.

A woman who — because she is 24 years younger than Boris — is full of enthusiasm for the sort of things old boomers like Crosby find tiresome: the environment, animal welfare, mental health.

Mr Johnson has reappointed Sir Lynton Crosby, who will be advising on the running of Downing Street

If there’s one thing Crosby can’t abide it’s ministers or MPs with ‘pet projects’, and Carrie has many of those. He also hates what he calls ‘freelancing’, by which he means anyone who tries to build a powerbase beyond that of the leader. I doubt whether he’ll have much time for the so-called ‘court of Carrie’.

I also have no doubt that Lynton can sort things out for Boris. The question is: at what cost?

Sooner or later, Boris is going to face an unenviable choice. Which is more important: his personal happiness and that of his family — or his career, his public standing, his legacy?

Despite his manifest personal failings, Boris has done so much that is impressive. He ran London, a Left-leaning city, as Conservative mayor, for two consecutive terms (thanks in large part to the campaigning talents of one Lynton Crosby).

He pushed through Brexit, swung an 80-seat majority, fronted a world-beating vaccine rollout and led us out of lockdown while half the world was still hiding under the stairs.

By rights, he ought to be riding high. But he’s not. And it’s not because of political weaknesses; it’s because of personal ones.

Lack of judgment, indulgence (of himself and others), corner-cutting, a lack of discipline in his private affairs: these are the things that are obscuring his victories.

These are the areas that Lynton will get to work on. As Cummings once said, a hard rain is coming. God help them all.

Tired but defiant: Body language expert Judi James says Priti Patel IS still behind Boris Johnson after social media critics claimed Home Secretary showed her frustration  

Priti Patel is still backing Boris Johnson, a body language expert has said after social media critics accused the Home Secretary of appearing frustrated with the PM while he fielded a defence in the Commons amid the Partygate scandal.  

Mr Johnson apologised to MPs after senior official Sue Gray found ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ from the Government – after gatherings were held while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

While the Prime Minister took a verbal battering in the House of Commons, Ms Patel appeared to show frustration with him, bringing her hand to her face and even – some commenters suggested – raising her middle finger towards him. 

But body language expert Judi James told MailOnline that the Home Secretary was ‘doing nothing more dramatic than massaging her brow at the end of a very intense session of debate’, adding that Ms Patel had showed the ‘firmest support’ for him.  

Ms James said: ‘If (Priti Patel) were secretly signaling behind the PM’s back it would be a crass and risky gesture, given that she had been posing as Boris’s most active endorser and supporter during the rest of the session. 

‘It would imply that she was either too spineless to voice objections to his face or hypocritical by energetically posing as one thing and then revealing herself as another in a ”behind their back” way that would be more suited to a naughty schoolkid.  

Priti Patel appeared to be rubbing her forehead yesterday as she sat beside the Prime Minister while he offered his mea culpa to the Commons

The Conservative front bench appeared disgruntled as their leader was grilled over the Sue Gray report yesterday. Rishi Sunak was one of the few MPs still wearing a face mask 

Some suggested that the Home Secretary appeared to be giving Mr Johnson ‘the finger’, while others claimed she was ‘squirming’ following the revelations in the Sue Grey report

‘While [Rishi] Sunak sat back in his seat, offering a few weak nods as Boris spoke but keeping his hands folded on his lap and even looking down in a cut-off ritual when Sue Grey’s name was mentioned, Raab was all squirms and scratching, with a praying hand gesture clamped between his legs.

‘During the important and most heated exchanges in the debate it was Patel showing the firmest support for the PM, mirroring his pose at some moments and yelling ”exactly” after some of his points. Her nods involved a slow closing of the eyes and she often heckled the opposition as they were speaking.’

Ms James said that it was only after the main part of the debate ended after just under an hour that Ms Patel sat back in her seat with her hands clasped across her lap.   

She added that once Rishi Sunak had left, Ms Patel was sitting next to the PM and just prior to the ‘finger’ gesture she even ‘patted him on the back to signal approval’. 

‘The debate had run out of steam, danger appeared to have been averted and Boris was just on repeat mode to all the stragglers being asked,’ Ms James said. 

‘Someone behind Patel seemed to let her know they were going and after that she began to show signals of tiredness. Her fingers rubbed across her eyebrows and she used one hand to part-cover her face in a shielding gesture.

‘We can then see Patel appear to cough or clear her throat before pressing her fingertips onto the upper bridge of her nose, suggesting tiredness or even a stress headache. She gives the muscles a brief massage before talking to someone on her left.

‘When she turns to look to her upper right the massage or rubbing of the muscles of the bridge of her nose now only involve the middle and index finger. In a still shot it might look daring and dismissive but placed into context it really does look like part of a ritual to rub away muscle tension caused by tiredness or a headache.’

The heated Commons exchange came after Sue Gray revealed in an ‘update’ that of the 16 alleged gatherings she had deemed necessary to investigate, at least 12 linked to government properties in Downing Street and Whitehall were being investigated by the police.

This included at least four directly linked to Mr Johnson either because he was reported to have attended, or because they are reported to have taken place in his flat.

Three alleged gatherings not previously reported were also included in the report.

But the police investigation had prevented her from delivering any meaningful report as to not impact the inquiry.

Mr Johnson told MPs in the Commons: ‘Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.

‘It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone.’

He added: ‘I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.’

However, he faced a hostile response from some on his own side and the threat of a vote of no confidence has not yet been defeated.

Former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told Mr Johnson he ‘no longer enjoys my support’.

Tory MP Angela Richardson announced she had quit as a ministerial aide to Michael Gove, sharing her ‘deep disappointment’ at the handling of the partygate row. 

The weight of the scandal appeared to not be lost of Ms Patel, whose strained expression and apparent look of disbelief sparked a series of social media posts

Aaron Bell, part of the 2019 intake of Red Wall MPs, recalled abiding by coronavirus restrictions for his grandmother’s May 2020 funeral before asking: ‘Does the Prime Minister think I’m a fool?’ 

In the Lords, ex-Whitehall chief and independent crossbencher Lord Kerslake said: ‘Even without the detail the general findings are utterly damning. This goes to the heart of government. Can government be trusted to do the right thing and tell the truth? It’s hard to think of anything more important than that.’

But Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the ‘mood was positive’ among Conservatives following an evening meeting on the Parliamentary estate.

He added: ‘So many people voted personally for Boris Johnson rather than voting for political parties.

‘Politicians have to accept that our bosses are the British people, and they voted for that, they put him in office.’

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow acknowledged it had been a ‘difficult day’ but said there was support for Mr Johnson.

Mr Bristow said he left ‘absolutely pumped’ and added that nobody in the meeting had called for Mr Johnson to go.

The change in mood came as No 10 confirmed the PM would ask Ms Gray to produce a second report after the police investigation concludes, and committed to publishing it.

But Ms Gray’s full report and the result of the police probe could yet threaten his premiership again, and Mr Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic cummings is due to questions on the report online on Tuesday which could provide more damaging details.

Mr Johnson apologised to MPs after senior official Sue Gray found ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ as gatherings were held while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021

Some suggested that the Home Secretary appeared to be giving Mr Johnson ‘the finger’, while others claimed she was ‘squirming’ and ‘mentally updating her CV’ following the revelations in the Sue Gray report

Boris Johnson was under fire in the Commons about Partygate yesterday

Polling on Monday night from Opinium said 62% of UK adults wanted the PM to resign, and 64% believed Tory MPs should make him go.

It comes after the Met revealed it is reviewing more than 300 images and over 500 pages of information passed to officers by the Gray inquiry.

Mr Rees-Mogg suggested the images should also be published, as he said: ‘The more people see, the more understanding there will be of precisely what went on.’

Mr Johnson also told MPs he was taking the issue seriously, underling how he had nearly died from coronavirus.

While reports suggested he had told his party that election strategist Sir Lynton Crosby would be offering him strategic advice.

Mr Johnson insisted he was ‘making changes’ to Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister with a permanent secretary to lead No 10.

While Downing Street said work was being carried out on a new policy to tackle the drinking culture in No 10, although a blanket ban on drinking is unlikely given its function as a venue for receptions for visiting dignitaries and charity events.

However, one Conservative who heard from Mr Johnson on Monday said the message to him was that MPs would ‘judge you by your delivery’.

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