Boris Johnson is skating on thin ice but Tories aren’t ready to drop a proven election winner

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The latest #partygate revelations are damaging for two images they leave in the minds of voters.

The Queen, alone in her pew, unable to be comforted by family members as she mourned her husband of 70 years, the day after the 16 April Downing Street parties were held.

She symbolised the privations of every family who followed the rules, even at their most painful moments.

Pic: AP
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sits alone in St. George's Chapel during the funeral of Prince Philip, the man who had been by her side for 73 years, at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. Prince Philip died April 9 at the age of 99 after 73 years of marriage to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. (Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP)

And an image we haven’t seen but has been painted vividly in the newspaper report of this party – an official dragging a suitcase of booze from the Co-op supermarket back to Downing Street for a night of festivity.

The rules, as of 12 April, were that no indoor mixing was allowed other than with family members.

The man whose leaving party it was has admitted it should not have happened and apologised.

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Downing Street has been forced to issue an apology to Buckingham Palace for the event, which they are careful not to describe ahead of Sue Gray’s inquiry, happening at a time of national mourning, which will leave wavering Tory MPs with their heads in their hands.

Some of the prime minister’s arch critics, such as the Kent MP Sir Roger Gale, say this means moves to oust him will gather pace.

A fifth MP, serial rebel Andrew Bridgen, has called for Mr Johnson to give way to a new leader in time for the party conference this autumn.

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And therein lies the problem. Undoubtedly, the parties have done the prime minister damage that is deep and probably irreversible.

But are those who would succeed him ready to move, and are Tory MPs ready to drop a proven election winner for a punt on someone untested, such as the chancellor or foreign secretary?

The answer to both questions is no for now.

Things can move quickly, particularly if local elections in May are disastrous or more revelations drip out.

Boris Johnson is skating on very thin ice, and wavering MPs say some very big gestures that he has changed the culture in Downing Street, and has an agenda the party can get behind, will be essential if it’s not too late.


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