Top Tories fear mainstream voters will abandon them after Partygate | Boris Johnson

Senior Tories have warned mainstream supporters are abandoning them after Boris Johnson’s Partygate fine, as another MP broke cover to say the Prime Minister should be removed from office.

Tory MPs across the country said on Saturday they believed many people who had backed the party before were now raising concerns, with Downing Street bracing for further fixed party sanctions in the coming days.

Write in the Observerformer immigration minister Caroline Nokes said she stood by her decision to submit a letter of censure to the prime minister.

It makes her the latest MP to back a leadership race since fines for breaching the lockdown were imposed on the Prime Minister and Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

She also pointed to correspondence suggesting previously secure voters were expressing concerns. She wrote: “There are those who say these emails are only from the ‘usual suspects’. It is true that there have been a few, the political activists who send out an automated email in no time. But they are very much in the minority.

“Most of the emails I’ve received in the past week are from people genuinely grieving about the family events they weren’t able to attend and didn’t participate in, and many are from people I know who are long-time supporters of the Conservatives.

“I have not withdrawn the letter of censure to Boris Johnson which I wrote months ago to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the [Tory backbench] 1922 Committee, because to do so would be to let down everyone who spent the pandemic doing the right thing.

Other Tory MPs, including serving ministers, said they believed sections of their constituents were alienated. A number said the party was trying so hard to retain new pro-Brexit voters that many traditional supporters were put off by Partygate and the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. .

“If you’re talking to our new blue-collar working-class voters, I’m not sure they’re that bothered,” said a Tory MP from the North. “But if you go to our traditional middle-class Conservative voter, they are angry. That’s how I would define it. I think he should have resigned.

A minister said: “We are going down a path that isolates people from the middle. I don’t know if there are enough votes on the right and in the core of the party to get us through. I just think it’s offensive and really hurts the brand. I’m just appalled.

A former minister said: ‘There are a few people I call ‘barometer people’ who came to me and said, ‘Listen, we’re still mad at him. We don’t think he should resign right now because we have the Ukrainian crisis, but he shouldn’t lead us to the next election. These are people who I know are Conservative supporters.

The news comes with Tory MPs demanding more contrition from Johnson when he meets them after Parliament returns in the coming week. He pledged to give a fuller explanation for his earlier denial that parties had taken place. There will also likely be demands this week for a vote on the Prime Minister’s referral to the cross-party privileges committee to find out whether he misled MPs about the Downing Street lockdown parties.

Labor has called Johnson’s involvement in the Partygate saga “indefensible” after new allegations emerged about the prime minister’s conduct.

Johnson’s official photographer captured photographs of the Prime Minister holding a beer on his birthday in June 2020 and Sunak with a soft drink, The Sunday Times reported.

The Sunday Mirror said No 10 refused to answer questions about the anniversary gathering submitted through a freedom of information request on national security grounds.

Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law.

“He deliberately misled the British people at every turn.

“The prime minister demeaned his office. The British people deserve better.

Some MPs critical of Johnson believe they have just months to decide if he is the right person to lead them in the next election. “As a party we have to make a decision on Boris before the summer break,” said one MP. “If we haven’t done it by then, Boris will lead us to the next general election.”

Labor leader Keir Starmer has called on Tory MPs to sack Johnson. ‘He is unfit for duty and every day he remains in Downing Street degrades his office further,’ he said. “The Tory cabinet, ministers and MPs need to realize this is not going to change and every time they defend Boris Johnson they become entangled in his web of lies.

“Are they really prepared to sit idly by and do nothing as his behavior brings discredit to their party? Only Conservative MPs have the power to put an end to this shameful saga. If the Prime Minister is not going to step down, then they must take action when Parliament returns this week to send a clear message that honesty and integrity in public life still matters.

A new Opinium poll for the Observer suggests fines for Johnson and Sunak had a more immediate impact on the Chancellor’s popularity, which has soared to an all-time high. The proportion of voters approving of the Chancellor was 24%, with 49% disapproving. His net approval rating of -25 is the lowest on record. Johnson remains on a -26 net approval rating.

The Metropolitan Police are also under increasing pressure to explain their approach and the timing of their decision to fine senior politicians for breaching lockdown rules. Unmesh Desai, a Labor member of the Greater London Authority’s Policing and Crime Committee, said he and his colleagues feared the Met had chosen to reveal the politically explosive findings of last week’s Partygate at some point. where Parliament was not sitting.

Desai, a former chairman of the committee that reviews the work of the mayor’s office for policing and crime, which in turn oversees the Met, said: ‘The timing and manner of the announcement raises more questions than answers. .”

Desai also wanted to know why a drip policy on the force fine decision had been adopted by the Met, a strategy he said had no precedent. He said the committee would ask Sir Stephen House – the acting head of the Met until a new commissioner is appointed – why the force decided to publish the findings of the inquiry in a piecemeal fashion.

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Edward L. Robinett