Boris Johnson accused of focusing on BBC to avoid wasting his premiership | Politics

Boris Johnson has been accused of focusing on the BBC in a determined try to avoid wasting his personal premiership, because the Labour chief accused him of breaking the legislation by attending lockdown events after which mendacity about it.

Plenty of Tory MPs are mentioned to be poised to demand Johnson’s resignation amid anger from constituents over allegations of a celebration tradition in Westminster whereas coronavirus restrictions had been in place.

There have been stories that as much as 35 of the 54 letters wanted to set off a vote of no confidence are already in, although the precise quantity is a carefully guarded secret.

As Downing Avenue hoped to search out methods to comprise the disaster, the tradition secretary, Nadine Dorries, one among Johnson’s most loyal allies, confirmed on Sunday the BBC licence payment might be abolished in 2027 – and the broadcaster’s funding might be frozen for the following two years.

Although the transfer will power the company to shut providers and probably make hundreds of redundancies, it’s more likely to show common with Conservative occasion members and supporters, in addition to the rightwing media who’ve but to name for Johnson to give up.

“The prime minister thinks these reporting on his rule-breaking ought to pay penalties, while he will get off free,” mentioned Lucy Powell, the shadow tradition secretary.

Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, described the announcement as “a last-ditch try [by Johnson] to avoid wasting his failing premiership”.

The BBC funding reduce, which might basically change the company because it enters its centenary yr, seems to be a central theme of Johnson’s fightback technique, which is reportedly referred to as Operation Purple Meat.

Different measures mentioned to be within the pipeline embrace a renewed drive to cease individuals crossing the Channel in small boats, measures to deal with the NHS operations backlog, additional funding in expertise and lifting Covid restrictions on 26 January.


Though the BBC had been braced for dangerous information for a while – Johnson declared that he would take into account abolishing the licence payment within the 2019 election marketing campaign (on a day when a hospital scandal was dominating the headlines) – one authorities insider mentioned the announcement had not been anticipated this weekend.

Some Tory MPs have been notably essential of the way in which the BBC has coated Johnson’s newest management disaster, with the backbencher Michael Fabricant even claiming on the weekend that relentless protection of anti-Johnson feedback in information stories amounted to “a coup try in opposition to the prime minister”.

No 10 insiders insisted on Sunday that these stories weren’t an element within the licence payment choice, which they mentioned was the end result of a course of occurring for greater than a yr, however the Liberal Democrat chief, Ed Davey, claimed there was a hyperlink “Slashing the funding of a beloved nationwide treasure simply since you don’t just like the headlines on the 6 o’clock information isn’t any manner for a accountable authorities in a democracy to behave,” he mentioned.

With Downing Avenue nonetheless reeling from revelations that its employees had partied the night earlier than the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, it was pressured to disclaim a declare that the prime minister didn’t intervene to cancel a 20 Could occasion final yr when he had the prospect.

No 10 mentioned the declare made by Dominic Lawson in his Sunday Occasions column was “unfaithful”.

However one former Downing Avenue staffer advised the Guardian they knew a minimum of one colleague who had warned Johnson personally that the “deliver your personal booze” gathering, organised by Johnson’s aide, Martin Reynolds, shouldn’t go forward.

Requested whether or not the PM knew concerning the occasion earlier than it happened, the previous insider replied: “Sure.”

Reynolds is one among a number of No 10 figures anticipated to depart after the senior civil servant Sue Grey publishes her report on the scandal. On Sunday Oliver Dowden, the Conservative occasion chair, mentioned Johnson was dedicated to implementing a “change of tradition” in Downing Avenue to cease these issues occurring once more.

With many Tory MPs ready till the Grey report comes out, the Labour chief, Keir Starmer, mentioned there was no want to attend as a result of it was already “apparent” that Johnson “broke the legislation … [and] then lied about what occurred”.

Starmer was referring to Johnson’s assertion to MPs final week through which he all however admitted that the occasion he attended at No 10 on 20 Could 2020 was in opposition to the foundations. Starmer mentioned the PM’s admission that he was on the occasion confirmed he was not telling the reality when he advised MPs earlier than Christmas there had been no events at No 10.

Six Conservative MPs had publicly referred to as for Johnson’s resignation by late Sunday and one backbencher mentioned that he knew there have been “a variety of letters written however not essentially despatched but” to the chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee demanding a confidence vote.

The MP mentioned the temper in his “crimson wall” constituency had gone from “anger to ridicule” and that Johnson had grow to be the butt of jokes amongst some who voted for him in December 2019. The backbencher mentioned “the time period ‘shitshow’ was used lots final week [by Tory MPs]” and that they had been ready for the forthcoming report into the partygate scandal earlier than deciding what to do subsequent.

James Johnson, a Tory pollster, delivered an identical perception into common revulsion with the PM on Sunday when he tweeted the findings from focus groups carried out with long-term Conservative voters, and individuals who backed the occasion for the primary time in 2019, and he reported that requires the PM to give up had been “nearly common”.

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