Politics

Boris Johnson off hook as Tories still backing PM to fight on despite ‘Partygate’ scandal

Boris Johnson: MP's 'calculating his recovery' says Portillo

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The poll from Optimum commissioned by Channel 4 News of 704 Tory members showed just a quarter (25 percent) believing the Prime Minister should quit, while 63 percent said he should stay. The support for Mr Johnson from Conservative Party members could be attributed to their belief he can beat Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer at the next general election. Just over half (52 percent) of those polled believed the Prime Minister will win a majority if both men remain leaders of their respective political parties.

In another huge boost, 46 percent of Tory members thought he was telling the truth when he claimed he believed a gathering he attended in Downing Street during the first lockdown was a “work event” and all rules were followed.

Only 29 percent didn’t believe him and a quarter (25 percent) were unsure.

The Prime Minister has received public support from a number of his top ministers, including deputy Dominic Raab and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Mr Johnson has remained tight-lipped over the “partygate” scandal until a review is complete, with opposition parties and even some of his own Tory backbenchers calling for him to resign.

But during a heated Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons last Wednesday, he apologised publicly on the controversy threatening to derail his premiership.

He said: “Mr. Speaker, I want to apologise.

“I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months.

“I know the anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want, or to do the things they love.

“And I know the rage they feel with me, over the government I lead, when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make them.

“Though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right.

“I must take responsibility.”

Sir Keir Starmer immediately ramped up the pressure by hitting back: “There we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road.

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“His defence … that he didn’t realise he was at a party is so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public.

“He’s finally been forced to admit what everyone knew, that when the whole country was locked down he was hosting boozing parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I appreciate the point that he’s making about the event that I attended.

“I want to repeat that I thought it was a work event and I regret very much that we did not do things differently that evening.

“I take responsibility and I apologise. But as for his political point, I don’t think that he should pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry.

“He will have a further opportunity, I hope, to question me as soon as possible.”

The same Opinium poll commissioned by Channel 4 News also revealed who would win a leadership election if there was a straight-run off between Rishi Sunak and Ms Truss.

Chancellor Mr Sunak would win with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the vote compared with 36 percent for the Foreign Secretary, the poll suggests.

They have both been touted as candidates to become the next Prime Minister, with the duo on “constant manoeuvres” to line themselves up as future leaders among Tory peers, according to The Daily Mail.

The top ministers are said to have been “sounding out” colleagues, and “working it quite hard” to rush for support in a future leadership opportunity.

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