Inside Politics: No 10 staff told to ‘clean up’ phones as PM urged to fess up on partygate

Sources say they were pressured to remove messages implying they had attended or were even aware of anything that could ‘look like a party’, writes Matt Mathers

Wednesday 12 January 2022 08:37
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<p>Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)</p>

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Boris Johnson’s silence on the latest partygate report means it is pretty much the only story in town this morning and once again splashes the vast majority of papers and news websites, which make dire reading for a prime minister who is now undoubtedly facing his most difficult and dangerous period in office. So far, the line from No 10 has been that the PM will not comment while an investigation into the parties takes place, leading some observers to joke that it must have been a hell of a shindig if he isn’t sure whether or not he was there. As public anger grows and discontent continues to foment on the Tory backbenches (which were notably empty yesterday as Michael Ellis, the paymaster general, was sent out to defend the seemingly indefensible) that line will surely not hold much longer. If those in No 10 needed a reminder of the deep hurt these stories are causing, then they needed to look no further than one of their colleagues. Jim Shannon, the DUP MP for Strangford, broke down in tears in the Commons chamber yesterday while recalling the passing of his mother-in-law, who died alone. Reports say the PM will make a public statement before PMQs later, where it is expected Keir Starmer, recovered from Covid, will set out the charges against him.

Inside the bubble

All eyes are on PMQs today as the PM is grilled on party reports. Before that there are women and equalities questions and any urgent questions. Main business is the report and third reading stages of the Commercial Rents (Coronavirus) Bill

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