Some Tories ‘still delusional’ about Boris Johnson, says Dominic Grieve

·3-min read

Some parts of the Conservative Party are “still delusional” about Boris Johnson, a former Cabinet secretary has said.

Dominic Grieve appeared on Sky News on Monday, when it was put to him that Mr Johnson is popular within the party and that there is a growing view that it will take someone of his character to lead the Tories in the future.

Mr Grieve, who served as David Cameron’s attorney general, said: “I’m afraid that just shows that elements of the Conservative Party are still delusional about Mr Johnson, and if they want to continue along that path it’s a matter for them.

“But Mr Johnson is not going to help the Conservative Party’s electoral fortunes.”

Mr Grieve’s comments come as Mr Johnson braces for a showdown with a Commons committee over the Partygate scandal.

Boris Johnson at a leaving gathering in the vestibule of the Press Office of 10 Downing Street (PA Media)
Boris Johnson at a leaving gathering in the vestibule of the Press Office of 10 Downing Street (PA Media)

Mr Grieve, who represented Beaconsfield, was one of 21 MPs who had the Conservative Party whip removed by Mr Johnson in September 2019 for voting with opposition parties to block a no-deal Brexit.

The Remain supporter stood as an independent at the December election later that year but lost out to new Conservative candidate Joy Morrisey - a Brexiteer. Since leaving the Commons Mr Grieve has been an outspoken critic of Mr Johnson.

He said that Mr Johnson has "a lot of explaining to do" when he faces MPs on Wednesday, adding that the former prime minister has a "serial reputation for telling untruths whenever it suits him".

Dominic Grieve says Johnson supporters are ‘delusional’ if they think ex-PM  can win election (AFP/Getty)
Dominic Grieve says Johnson supporters are ‘delusional’ if they think ex-PM can win election (AFP/Getty)

"Mr Johnson certainly does appear to have a considerable problem. He attended some of the gatherings which were parties, and yet he said that there weren’t any gatherings,” he said.

"And it’s a bit difficult therefore to understand how he didn’t know that there had been parties going on at Number 10 Downing Street.

"He says they’re work events. Well the photograph you’re just showing rather shows for itself the nature of the gatherings which were taking place. They don’t look like work events.”

Mr Johnson will on Monday submit evidence to the Commons privileges committee investigating whether or not he essentially lied to MPs when he told them all Covid rules were followed in Downing Street during lockdown.

The committee has already said, in an interim report, that there is evidence showing that rule breaches would have been “obvious” to Mr Johnson, who was forced to resign last year partly due to the affair.

After submitting his evidence Mr Johnson faces a grilling by the committee on Wednesday that could run for up to five hours.

If the committee finds that Mr Johnson did indeed knowingly mislead MPs on Partygate, and was therefore in contempt of parliament, this would set in chain a series of events that could potentially bring an end to the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP’s political career.

MPs could hand Mr Johnson a suspension if he is found guilty.

A suspension of more than 10 days would give Mr Johnson’s constituents the opportunity to remove him as their MP in a by-election.

Over the weekend allies of Mr Johnson briefed newspapers that he was preparing to submit a “bombshell defence dossier” of evidence to MPs as he attempts to clear his name.

They said the former PM would put forward a “detailed and compelling” account to the committee before his appearance, showing that he “did not knowingly mislead the House”.

An exclusive poll for The Independent found that 67 per cent of voters want Mr Johnson to stand down if the probe finds him guilty.