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Downing Street has brushed off claims that the prime minister has ever referred to himself as “big dog”.
It had been alleged that Boris Johnson was planning a clear out of his No10 inner circle in response to the party scandals engulfing the government.
The Independent reported that the plan’s name “Operation Save Big Dog” had been dubbed by the prime minister himself and included a blueprint on which heads should roll after the publication of an investigation into partygate. The paper claimed that officials had even started using the code name.
The prime minister’s official spokesman was asked by journalists on Monday: “Do the prime minister’s staff refer to him as ‘big dog’?”
To which he replied: “I’ve never heard that term used.”
Pressed on whether Johnson referred to himself as “big dog” the spokesman replied: “Certainly not, not that I am aware of.”
It comes as Johnson’s government goes on a charm offensive to win over Conservative MPs and the public amid fury over partygate.
It has been claimed that populist policies, referred to as “red meat” will pushed by the government in a bid to allow Johnson to survive the furore.
Fury over the gatherings was compounded when it emerged that two events were held in No10 the day before the Queen had to sit alone at the funeral of her husband in April last year. The scandal forced the prime minister to apologise to the Queen.
He has also apologised to the Commons for personally attending a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020. Six Tory MPs have publicly called for him to go.
The government’s fightback includes threatening to scrap the BBC licence fee, ending covid restrictions, tougher action against Channel crossings and publishing “levelling up” plans.
This morning education secretary Nadhim Zahawi denied the reports that the prime minister was unrolling new, dramatic strategies to save himself. He claimed that the government “doesn’t operate like that”.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.