Tories fail to draw line under 'plebgate' row

As some MPs rally round Andrew Mitchell, others ask why Cameron has not sacked him

The embattled Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell has had messages of support from 70 MPs over the continuing fallout from his rant at police officers, it emerged yesterday.

As the House of Commons returns for the first time since last month's incident at the gates of Downing Street, David Cameron continued to support Mr Mitchell, despite senior police officers calling on the minister to quit over his alleged "pleb" remark.

Signs of an "Operation Save Andrew" began to emerge after extraordinary levels of disquiet from ministers about the row during the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham last week.

One minister said the incident had made the Prime Minister "the angriest I've ever seen him", raising questions over why Mr Cameron failed to sack Mr Mitchell.

The Chief Whip returns to his desk in Downing Street tomorrow to resume "business as usual", according to sources. One friend said the minister had received about 70 messages of support from Tory MPs and that the 14 whips under his command were "solidly behind him". But there are many MPs, including at least four members of the Cabinet, who doubt that he can hang on to his job.

The row failed to die down after Mr Mitchell held talks with three members of the West Mercia and Warwickshire police federations at his constituency office in Sutton Coldfield on Friday. Mr Mitchell reiterated his apology but refused to tell the officers exactly what he said, apart from insisting that he did not use the word "pleb".

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, accused the Police Federation of fuelling the row "for their own purposes". He told Radio 4's Any Questions?: "We've now got other people who were not involved in the incident who seem to be trying to hijack this issue and take it forward for their own purposes."

It is understood that Mr Cameron and Mr Mitchell have not held a full discussion about the matter, apart from it being mentioned in passing. But one minister said several leading members of constituency associations had approached him to complain about Mr Mitchell's behaviour. "People are asking when Mitchell will go," the minister said, "and it's difficult to disagree with them. David has let it go on too long."

A No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister thinks what he did was completely unacceptable, but he has apologised to the officers who don't want to take it any further."

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "David Cameron is the only person left still backing Andrew Mitchell. How long is the Prime Minister going to let this drag on?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'