Boris Johnson should be 'very worried' by reaction of Tory MPs to Partygate statement, warns William Hague

Boris Johnson should be "very worried" by the reaction of Conservative MPs to his Partygate statement in Parliament, former Tory leader William Hague has said.

Writing in The Times, the Rotherham-born politician and former MP for Richmond said the Prime Minister's "failure to go further in his apology and his proposals" meant he has stalled his attempt at a fightback.

"If I were him, I would be very worried about the number of his own MPs who asked unhelpful questions at the end of his statement," he said.

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Mr Hague said the PM had plenty of time to craft a comprehensive and substantial response to the update from Sue Gray which would have given his critics “pause for thought” but instead “decided to do the minimum”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.

“The Prime Minister could have got on the front foot, advancing his position on a broader front of ensuring integrity in government,” he said.

Mr Hague said the Partygate scandal remains an open issue following yesterday's events.

"The result of the report and the response to it is that the whole business is far from over. The full version of the Sue Gray report should indeed be published when that is possible. The police inquiry will grind on," he said.

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"Most decisively, MPs will assess over the coming days or weeks the considered views of their constituents.

"Those Tories who are ready to act to remove him will be calculating the timing of their next move, conscious that they have only one shot at it in a 12-month period.

"Benefiting as he has from good luck and well-organised supporters, Boris Johnson in the Commons did not decisively follow that up."

Mr Hague's remarks came as former Conservative cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell accused the Prime Minister of running Government "like a medieval court".

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Mr Mitchell, who told Parliament on Monday that Mr Johnson had lost his support, warned on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Partygate is doing major damage to the Conservative Party.

“I think this is a crisis that is not going to go away and is doing very great damage to the party," he said.

“It is more corrosive in my judgement than the expenses scandal was and it will break the coalition that is the Conservative Party.”

Mr Mitchell said an “awful lot” is going on “beneath the surface”.

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He went on: “I think the problem is that Boris is running a modern government like a medieval court, you need to rule and govern through the structures, through Whitehall, through the cabinet for National Security Council.

“Many of us thought he would govern in the way he did when he was Mayor Of London, through being a chairman of a board, running a very good team – that is not what has happened here.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has claimed Tory MPs “overwhelmingly” supported Boris Johnson.

Mr Raab told Times Radio: “On the specific issues Sue Gray cited, I think he has addressed all of those questions in a fulsome way and, frankly, at the political level, my experiences in the Chamber but also at the meeting of Conservative MPs – overwhelmingly MPs backing him, wanting to see us getting on with the job.

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“The economy is firing, the vaccine rollout has been a spectacular success. People, and I think our constituents, want to see us getting on with the job.”

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