Boris Johnson to shake up No 10 in response to Sue Gray report
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At a meeting of Conservative MPs following a bruising day in the Commons, the Prime Minister outlined a three-point plan to win over the doubters and re-assert his authority. He entered last night’s meeting on the back foot after his own MPs were left furious at his performance in the chamber hours earlier.
His refusal to guarantee to publish Sue Gray’s full report once the Met Police investigation ends and a series of low blows aimed at Sir Keir Starmer left Tories seething.
Making the address that could determine his future, Mr Johnson told Conservative MPs in a behind-closed-doors meeting that he knew things had to change.
The Prime Minister U-turned on his apparent stubbornness to releasing Ms Gray’s full findings, saying a fresh “update” would be provided once Scotland Yard completed their probe.
He further promised to have more interaction with MPs on policy in a formal forum in order to ensure Government policy better took account of backbench opinion.
In an announcement that led to a cheer among those present, Mr Johnson outlined plans to bring back election guru Lynton Crosby on a regular basis to provide advice.
Mr Crosby has regularly been employed by the Tories over the past 20 years and has been credited for some of their biggest electoral successes.
Before the meeting there were concerns among the Prime Minister’s allies that a surge of no confidence letters could be submitted by MPs, taking the total over the 54 needed to force a vote on Mr Johnson’s future.
While the number of letters submitted is kept secret, after the Conservative leader’s address to backbenchers, it appeared any threat of an immediate vote had subsided.
Following the mass meeting of the Tory Party, Peterborough MP Paul Bristow acknowledged it had been a “difficult day” but said there was support for Mr Johnson.
Mr Bristow said he left “absolutely pumped” and added that nobody in the meeting had called for Mr Johnson to go.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the “mood was positive” among Conservatives.
He said: “We’ve got to remember how well the Prime Minister has done in the general run of being Prime Minister.”
He added: “So many people voted personally for Boris Johnson rather than voting for political parties.
“Politicians have to accept that our bosses are the British people, and they voted for that, they put him in office.”
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Another Tory MP said colleagues were “nodding and smiling” as the Prime Minister addressed Conservatives.
They said Mr Johnson apologised during the meeting and the message to him was that MPs would “judge you by your delivery” on promised changes.
However, despite the leader seeing off an apparent challenge to his future, there remains growing anger among some senior members of the party.
Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson fought back tears on Channel 4 news last night as she admitted being left “upset” by Downing Street partygate allegations.
Baroness Davidson said: “I am upset and I’m upset because, not just because of things that myself and others that are in my close family and circle of friends missed and had to give up, but, you know, I was working in the Scottish Parliament, I had constituents that lost businesses, I had people that feel guilty that they didn’t go to the care home to see their parents, that they didn’t hug a friend at a funeral because they played by the rules.
Ruth Davidson says she’s ‘upset’ at Boris Johnson’s leadership
“And now they look at what happened in Number 10 and they feel like idiots and they shouldn’t be made to feel like that.”
Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell, who yesterday told Mr Johnson to his face that he had lost confidence in his leadership, said this morning: “Boris is running government like a medieval court.
“You need to govern through the structures of government – he isn’t.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he added the row over parties was “more corrosive than the expenses scandal”.
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