Cabinet ministers circle the wagons to defend Boris Johnson

·3-min read
(UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)
(UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)

Cabinet ministers have rallied behind the Prime Minister to publicly shore up Boris Johnson’s support.

Senior Conservatives flooded broadcast studios and social media with praise for the PM following his admission he attended a “bring your own booze” party in No 10 in May 2020 and fears over Tory revolt rose.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson apologised and insisted he thought the event was work-related.

And Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was the first out of the blocks to back her boss, saying an inquiry led by senior official Sue Gray must be allowed to go ahead.

Ms Dorries wrote on Twitter that the “PM was right to personally apologise earlier.

“People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that. The inquiry should now be allowed to its work and establish the full facts of what happened”.

Responding to her message, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove: “Nadine is right.”

And the former leadership hopeful also backed up the PM to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, where he is reported to have said Mr Johnson “gets the big calls right” and urged colleagues not to be “flaky”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”

Following speculation over why he had not publicly supported Mr Johnson earlier, he said: “I’ve been on a visit all day today continuing work on our #PlanForJobs as well as meeting MPs to discuss the energy situation.”

While Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “I stand behind the Prime Minister 100% as he takes our country forward.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told ITV it was a “daft question” when asked whether he would run again for the Tory leadership.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

“I’m fully supportive of this Prime Minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come,” he said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng are reported to have expressed their support in a Whatsapp group for Tory MPs.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I completely understand why people feel let down. The PM did the right thing by apologising.

“Now we need to let the investigation complete its work. We have so much to get on with including rolling out boosters, testing and antivirals – so we can live with Covid.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio: “I think the Prime Minister was very contrite today, he apologised and he took full responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told the broadcaster: “I think the Prime Minister has got things right again and again and again.

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

“But like us all, he accepts that during a two-and-a-half-year period, there will be things that with hindsight would have been done differently.”

Asked if the PM will resign if Ms Gray’s report found wrongdoing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves here. We should take this a step at a time.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also backed the PM, as did International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden, Attorney General Suella Braverman and Cop26 President Alok Sharma.

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