‘Looks like checkmate’ for Boris Johnson, says senior Tory MP

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‘Looks like checkmate’ for Boris Johnson, says senior Tory MP
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Boris Johnson is probably in a “checkmate” position, a senior Brexiteer said on Thursday raising fresh doubts over the Prime Minister’s future.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe and who played a key role in the downfall of Theresa May with his strong opposition to her Brexit plans, also urged the Cabinet to show “leadership” amid the Partygate crisis.

Interviewed for the BBC’s Nick Robinson Political Thinking podcast, Mr Baker said: “It’s a sorry situation we are in.

“We did not make Boris Johnson Prime Minister for his meticilous grasp of tedious rules.

“But this is all appalling and the public are rightly furious.”

He added: “At the moment, I’m afraid, it does look like checkmate. Whether he can save himself, we will see.”

Checkmate is a position in chess which occurs when a king is placed in check and has no moves to escape.

Pressed what he meant by checkmate, Mr Baker added: “I feel a bit like we are all looking at the chess board and you know how it goes...check, check, check, checkmate and then people are all looking at the board unless they are grandmasters and saying well is it over? And I think that is where we are.

“It probably is checkmate and we are all waiting for Sue Gray’s report.”

Boris Johnson (Tom Nicholson/PA) (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson (Tom Nicholson/PA) (PA Wire)

Senior civil servant Ms Gray is due to report next week on the series of parties in Downing Street when Britain was in lockdown or under other Covid restrictions.

Mr Johnson has denied he broke the law or regulations.

He told the Commons that he believed a “bring-your-own-booze” party on May 20, 2020, was a work event.

Mr Baker said he was not going to organise any moves against the Prime Minister, a close ally over Brexit, as his “heart would not be in it”

However, he added: “I’m very clear that if he has broken the law or lied at the Despatch Box then he must go and so I would then act myself to that end.

“But I would just say, as I’ve said before, I would much prefer that Boris Johnson was a roaring success.

“But that’s not where we currently are.”

The Cabinet and many Tory MPs have backed Mr Johnson as the furore has grown.

“Honestly, at the moment I’m looking to the Cabinet for leadership,” explained Mr Baker.

“We are talking about alleged serious breaches of the ministerial code, possibly the law, possibly the Nolan Principles of public life.

“Really there are some proper grown-ups who are supposed to be leaders of our country in the Cabinet. I would quite like them to rise to this moment.”

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