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Boris Johnson says he is still a Tory ‘asset’ despite partygate claims

Boris Johnson holds a no 10 shirt with his name as he sits with fans during a visit to Bury FC (Danny Lawson/PA)
Boris Johnson holds a no 10 shirt with his name as he sits with fans during a visit to Bury FC (Danny Lawson/PA)

Boris Johnson says he remains an electoral “asset” to the Tories despite growing calls from his own MPs to quit over lockdown parties in No 10.

It comes as Downing Street on Monday said the Prime Minister has not received any further fixed penalties for violating Covid laws.

“There is nothing to update on,” the PM’s official spokesman said.

This month’s disclosure that Mr Johnson had been fined over a 56th birthday gathering in the cabinet room led to fresh demands from some Tory MPs for him to stand aside.

No 10 is said to be braced for Mr Johnson to be given a second fine amid reports police have begun sending out fixed penalty notices for a “bring your own booze” party he attended in the Downing Street garden in May 2020.

Meanwhile, there are reports the final partygate report of senior civil servant Sue Gray, due to be published once police have finished their inquiries, will be so critical Mr Johnson’s position will be untenable.

Campaigning in Bury ahead of local elections on May 5, Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on Ms Gray’s findings.

“There is absolutely no circumstance in which I’m going to comment on that before the thing is complete,” he said in a pooled clip for broadcasters.

Asked if he was still an asset to the Tories in the elections, he said: “I’m not denying that.”

He added: “I think that the greatest asset the Conservatives have are Conservative values and the way that Conservative councillors up and down the country deliver taxpayer value.

POLITICS Johnson
(PA Graphics)

“That’s what really matters and I think that’s what people will be focused on. And we will be fighting for every vote right up ’til polling day.”

Some Mr Johnson allies are concerned that poor results in the local elections will lead to more Tory MPs seeking to oust him.

Under party rules, there must be a vote of confidence in the leader by Tory MPs if 54 of them write to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, currently Sir Graham Brady, calling for one.

One loyalist minister acknowledged the elections are likely to be difficult, given their timing.

Technology minister Chris Philp told Sky News: “Local elections in mid-term tend to be challenging for any government.”

Meanwhile, Labour accused Mr Johnson of “running scared” from MPs after it emerged he will not be making a Commons statement after his overseas visit last week, even though it is customary to do so after major foreign trips.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “The fact that Boris Johnson is running scared from updating Parliament on his fruitless trip to India shows it was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to distract from his lies and law-breaking at home.

“The Conservative government is so distracted defending the hapless Prime Minister that it has no answers to the problems facing the country.”

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