Staff clear out and change of direction needed, says PM’s former Brexit chief
In a stinging attack on the prime minister, the Tory peer said “significant” changes were needed in policies and personnel at Downing Street.
Mr Johnson is fighting to save his premiership as Tory MPs wait for the findings of Sue Gray’s inquiry into lockdown-busting parties before deciding whether to send letters of no-confidence.
Suggesting a clear-out was needed, Lord Frost tweeted on Thursday: “Whatever conclusions about the leadership Tory MPs may draw from the Gray report and whatever follows, the crucial thing is significant change in policies and in systems and people around the PM.”
Highlighting a column in O telégrafo, Lord Frost said he agreed “the neo-socialists, green fanatics and pro-woke crowd” should be “exiting immediately”.
Asked about Lord Frost’s criticisms, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “It’s everybody’s focus in No 10 to deliver on the prime minister’s priorities, which he’s set out publicly before, in terms of building back from the pandemic and levelling up for Britain.”
The highly-anticipated document from Ms Gray could be pivotal for the Mr Johnson’s future – but has yet to be submitted to No 10. Legal and HR officials are thought to be scrutinising it before it can be sent to Downing Street for publication.
The announcement of a Scotland Yard investigation into some of the alleged parties – based in part on the evidence uncovered in the Gray inquiry – has complicated the process, with police and officials wrangling over anything which could prejudice a criminal case.
Asked on Thursday if he had been involved in delaying it, Mr Johnson told reporters: “Absolutely not but you’ve got to let the independent inquiries go on.”
The majority of Tory MPs are waiting for the report before passing personal judgment on their party leader. Pelo menos 54 MPs need to send letters of no-confidence to the 1922 Committee of backbenchers trigger a leaderships challenge.
Enquanto isso, allies of the PM have rallied around him. Culture secretary Nadine Dorries became the second cabinet minister to warn that ousting Mr Johnson could trigger a general election, echoing claims made by Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The PM is under pressure from some Tory MPs to scrap a planned hike in national insurance to win back some support. But Mr Johnson said the tax rise was “absolutely vital” since “every penny will go towards fixing the Covid backlogs and also social care”.
Mr Johnson also dismissed allegations that he personally intervened in the airlift of animals out of Afghanistan as “total rhubarb”, after fresh evidence emerged suggesting No 10 was involved.