Politics

Desperate Boris launches plot to save job with SIX new policies – including BBC fee freeze

BBC host explains why Tories may keep Boris in power

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A two-year freeze on any increases to the cost of the BBC’s television licence is just one of the proposals which the Prime Minister is understood to be pushing for. Mr Johnson is currently under enormous pressure after apologising in the Commons for attending a “bring your own booze” party in the garden of Downing Street at the height of the lockdown on May 20, 2020.

His admission has resulted in storm of criticism.

However, despite suggestions swirling around Westminster that it is only a matter of time before he is forced to quit, the PM is refusing to go quietly.

And he equally unprepared to shoulder the blame.

The six key initiatives being pushed by Mr Johnson, and highlighted in today’s Sunday Times, are:

  • Using the military to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel

  • Allocating more money to clear the NHS backlog

  • Freezing the cost of a television licence at £159 for two years

  • An end to all Covid restrictions

  • The publication of a white paper on levelling up

  • An announcement to ease the cost of energy prices by Chancellor Rishi Sunak


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The informal codename was coined by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is reported to have told colleagues: “Stop talking about dead cats and start throwing some red meat on the green benches.”

Sir John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham, welcomed the idea, tweeting: “I read we will be offered Operation Red Meat.

“So begin with UK energy self sufficiency, control of borders, no National Insurance rise and policies to grow and make more of what we need here at home.”

However, former BBC producer Rob Burley warned: “Part of “operation red meat” – distract from party gate by effectively cutting BBC funding again.

“This will mean services will have to be cut, staff in news and elsewhere will be lost, more mistakes will be made. Short-sighted doesn’t cover it.”

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Mr Johnson has been under the cosh after ITV on Monday night published details of an email sent by Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, inviting roughly 100 people to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden.

The Prime Minister subsequently admitted he and wife Carrie had attended for 25 minutes while insisting he believed it to be a “work event”.

The following day, the mood in Number 10 was “like a morgue”, an insider said.

With approximately 40 people in attendance, Mr Johnson had made it clear he was not prepared to saddle the blame.

One of them later told a friend: “He had a massive go at them for failing to sort things out.

“He made it clear he thought they had let him down. Boris’s view is that he is not to blame, that everyone else is to blame.

As senior staff “studied the floor”, Mr Johnson reportedly asked: “How has all this been allowed to happen? How has it come to this? How haven’t you sorted this out?”

Mr Johnson is understood to be ready to fire Mr Reynolds, his deputy Stuart Glassborow, plus Downing Street chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and some other members of the communications team once civil servant Sue Gray delivers her investigation into the various reports of lockdown-busting parties connected to Number 10 next week.

Referring to the former Tory Prime Minister’s infamous reshuffle in 1962, dubbed the Night of the Long Knives, one MP said: “It’s like Macmillan.

“Boris is preparing to lay down the lives of his staff to save his own. It will be the Night of the Long Scapegoats.”

One minister said: “He is in total survival mode. He is so worried that he has started to read his Government papers.”

Another added: “He’s been angry for weeks. But he also wants to tell you ‘it’s all going to be all right’. He’s feeling the pressure.”

A third said: “Boris is finished. That decision has been taken. The only question is the timing.”

The remarks illustrate the chronic unease which currently permeates the Parliamentary Conservative Party, with at least 20, and possibly as many as 30, believed to have submitted letters of no-confidence to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.

If the number hits 54, that would automatically trigger a leadership contest.

Another who backs the idea of replacing Mr Johnson as leader said: “This feels like the reverse of the Theresa May situation.

“Last time it was possible to get the letters but she won the no confidence vote. This time it’s harder to get the letters, but if we get them that will be because everyone has decided that Boris must go. And then he’s finished.”

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