Boris Johnson ‘will admit serious mistakes in Partygate’ and says he regrets lax enforcement of lockdown rules at Number 10 as he fights for his job – while wait for Sue Gray report leaves him sweating
Boris Johnson will acknowledge ‘serious mistakes’ over the Partygate affair as he battles to persuade his MPs – and the country – that he should keep his job.
The Prime Minister has told allies he bitterly regrets the lax enforcement of inperking rules in No 10.
The saga has seen police called in to investigate whether a string of parties and gatherings broke Covid laws.
His response to the report by Whitehall ethics chief Sue Gray is expected to begin with an apology for the anger caused by the events, and acknowledgment that they should never have happened.
One ally told the Daily Mail: ‘He knows he has made serious mistakes, but he believes he is still the right man to lead this country.’
The Prime Minister is trialling the approach during a series of one-on-one meetings with wavering Tories.
The Prime Minister is expected to issue an apology and acknowledge that Partygate mistakes should never happened once he receives the report by Whitehall ethics chief Sue Gray
Boris Johnson and staff pictured with wine in Downing Street garden in May 2020
Bolton MP Mark Logan, who last week hinted he thought the PM should go, today said a meeting with Mr Johnson had convinced him that he had the capacity to get his premiership back on track.
Mr Logan told Sky News: ‘I could see he feels real contrition. He feels very sorry for the mistakes which have been made. But when he digs deep I think he can continue to lead this country.’
Fellow Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh said: ‘I think opinion is calming down at the moment.
‘I think when the history of this is written, people will think it’s almost ridiculous that in the midst of all these global challenges that we face, that serious people were calling on the Prime Minister to resign because of some social events… for which he’s apologised.’
In the Commons today, Mr Johnson rejected Labour calls to resign. He told MPs he was ‘getting on with the job’, though he acknowledged that the Opposition and others ‘want me out of the way’.
He ducked direct questions about lockdown-busting parties, saying there was ‘simply no way… I can comment on the investigation that is currently taking place’.
The report by Sue Gray (op die foto) had been expected by some to be made public today. Its release is anticipated within the coming days
Several Tory MPs today remained poised to submit letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister as soon as Miss Gray’s report is published.
Some believe the threshold of 54 letters could be passed in the coming days, paving the way for a formal vote over his leadership.
But Downing Street has now launched a major drive to bring wavering MPs back onside. Mr Johnson today held one-to-one meetings with 15 MPs to listen to their concerns and explain his strategy for restoring Tory fortunes.
Amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, one senior Tory suggested any confidence vote might have to be delayed for weeks if Vladimir Putin invades the country in the coming days.
And senior ministers continued to urge MPs and the public to focus on wider issues, such as Covid and the cost of living.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘We need to get a sense of proportion and start thinking about Boris Johnson’s leadership in the round – he delivered the furlough scheme, which protected millions, he delivered the vaccine programme.’