Boris Johnson will survive parties crisis to fight next election, minister claims

Prime minister to tour UK in bid to shake off Westminster rows

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Sunday 13 February 2022 18:58
Comments
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis shows support for Johnson in wake of partygate

A cabinet minister has insisted that Boris Johnson will survive his Partygate crisis to fight and win the next general election as Conservative leader.

Brandon Lewis’s comments came amid growing pressure on the prime minister from Tory MPs to quit if he is fined by police over parties in Downing Street, with ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith saying it would be “very tough” for him to stay on.

Mr Johnson will this week attempt to give his premiership a fresh start with a tour of the UK designed to dispel the impression that he is leading a narrow clique obsessed with power struggles in Westminster.

His new No 10 chief of staff, Stephen Barclay, today promised the government will “take a step back from people’s lives” as it seeks to “restore a smaller state” in the wake of the pandemic.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Barclay said: “It’s time to return to a more enabling approach. To trust the people, return power to communities and free up business to deliver.”

Speaking to Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Mr Lewis denied that the prime minister had been distracted by the police investigation into Downing Street parties from crucial issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, Covid and Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The Northern Ireland secretary insisted: “He is absolutely focused on the job in hand, on what he is doing for the British people.”

Mr Johnson is understood to be consulting lawyers as he fills out a legal questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police asking him to give credible explanations for his presence at up to six gatherings or face a fine.

A Savanta ComRes poll for The Independent found that 75 per cent of voters think that if the PM is fined he should resign, compared to just 16 per cent who said he should stay.

And Mr Duncan Smith said: “I think it would be very tough for anyone to remain after that – if you’ve set the laws, and you break them and the police decide you have broken them.”

Meanwhile, Tory MPs are eyeing Labour’s lead in the polls with increasing concern as they weigh up whether Mr Johnson will be an asset or a liability for them in upcoming local elections in May.

But Mr Lewis said: “He has my absolute 100 per cent-plus loyalty. I think this is a prime minister who is doing the right thing for our country. He’s got the big decisions right.

“I think he will fight and he will win the next general election.”

Mr Johnson is understood to have ditched plans for an overseas visit during the coming week’s parliamentary recess, in order to be on hand to lead the UK response if Russia invades Ukraine.

Instead, he will visit factory workers and scientific researchers in Scotland, and meet health staff at a cancer centre in the northwest that is tackling the backlog of treatment after the pandemic.

Ahead of the trip, the prime minister said: “I’m getting out of London this week and taking a simple message with me: this government is getting on with the job of uniting and levelling up the country.

“Access to good healthcare, a good education, skilled work, reliable transport – none of this should depend on where you live. We’re changing the rules of the game to put fairness back at the heart of the system and focusing on the priorities that really matter to people. This is our mission and we’re getting on with delivering it.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in