Boris Johnson has reportedly reinstated his Tory leadership team and set up a spreadsheet to keep tabs on MPs’ loyalties amid concerns he will face a no-confidence vote over the party scandal.
The prime minister is relying on the group who helped him triumph in the 2019 leadership contest and has started scrutinising every Conservative MP to determine if they are on side, undecided, or eager to kick him out, according to The Times.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is reportedly playing a central role in shoring up support for the beleaguered PM and has dusted off the spreadsheet of MPs he used to help secure Mr Johnson’s leadership victory in 2019.
Three former whips – Chris Pincher, Nigel Adams and Chris Heaton Harris – as well as other loyalists began work this week, the newspaper reports.
Mr Johnson is set to spend the weekend in his study at Chequers, his country retreat, calling up wavering MPs and trying to win them over.
Fifty-four Tory MPs must submit letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee to trigger a no-confidence vote, and insiders now believe it is a case of “when, not if” the threshold is passed, the paper reports.
The prime minister’s team are said to think they have the backing of about 300 of 359 Tory MPs.
There are reportedly fears inside Downing Street that Sue Gray’s report on lockdown parties could be more damning than first thought.
Mr Johnson’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield is said to have told colleagues: “We might all need to fall on our swords here.”
It comes as fresh details emerged about a party held in Downing Street on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. No 10 staff reportedly partied until the early hours of the morning in a seven-hour drinking session and ordered in pizza.
At the time, Covid restrictions banned socialising indoors except with members of the same household or support bubble.
Opposition parties have called for evidence of Downing Street parties to be published in full, instead of an edited summary.
Meanwhile the senior Tory backbencher who accused No 10 of trying to “blackmail” MPs seeking to remove Mr Johnson is to meet police next week to discuss his allegations.
MP William Wragg said he will be meeting a Scotland Yard detective in the House of Commons, raising the prospect police could open an investigation.
Downing Street has said it would not be mounting its own inquiry into the claims, despite calls to do so by both Conservative and opposition MPs.