Good morning. Prime ministers get used to reading in the papers that they are having their worst every day/week since taking office – normally every couple of months or so – but sometimes it might be true, and this morning Alex Wickham in his London Playbook briefing says that last night Tories he spoke to “were unanimous that Wednesday was Johnson’s worst day politically since becoming prime minister”.
But today, in at least two respects, the situation continues to get worse.
First, the Times is reporting new allegations about lockdown-busting partying by the Tories (paywall). It focuses on two events, and it reports:
As anger grows among Tory MPs about an event held in No 10 on December 18 last year, The Times can disclose that Conservative Party staff danced and drank wine late into the night at another event that month.
Senior advisers and officials working in Downing Street also held a Christmas quiz, and one source claimed that Dan Rosenfield, Johnson’s incoming chief of staff, took part …
On December 14 about 25 people gathered in the basement of Conservative headquarters in Westminster. The event was organised by the campaign team of Shaun Bailey, who was running for mayor of London. Bailey attended the party, at which people wore festive hats and he received a Lego set as a Christmas present from a donor.
Revellers damaged a door and staff were disciplined. No 10 aides were said to have been among those present.
At the time London was in the Tier 2 level of restrictions, meaning all socialising indoors between households was banned …
At about the same time, a Christmas quiz is understood to have been organised for officials and Conservative advisers working for the prime minister, with invitations sent out in advance.
Yesterday No 10 initially said the inquiry by Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, would just focus on the 18 December Downing Street party, but at the press conference later in the day Boris Johnson said Case could look at other things, and the Times story will add to the pressure on him to extend the remit of his investigation.
And, second, the Tory rebellion over the move to plan B is serious, and growing. As Jessica Elgot reports, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, was heckled from his own side in the Commons last night as he announced the move to plan B. Johnson seems to have made the situation worse at the press conference by calling for a debate on mandatory vaccination and this morning on the Today programme Marcus Fysh, the Conservative MP, denounced the introduction of Covid passports as a “disgrace”. He said:
Of course I’ll vote against it. Everybody should vote against it. This is a fundamental thing about what sort of society we want to live in.
It’s a disgrace that they’re pursuing that, utter disgrace.
Johnson is in no danger of losing the vote next week, because Labour will support him. But a prime minister who loses the support of a substantial proportion of their own MPs on the key issue of the day loses authority.
Here is the agenda for the day.
10.30am: A Cabinet Office minister responds to an urgent question about the inquiry into No 10 parties
Around 11.15am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, takes questions in the Commons on next week’s business.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
Around 12.15pm: Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, makes a Commons statement on delivering justice for victims.
12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions in the Scottish parliament.
Afternoon: Kate Forbes, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, makes a budget statement in the Scottish parliament.
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