Voters slate Boris Johnson ahead of local elections
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The Prime Minister has come under mounting pressure to resign over the controversy following the release of a damning report by British civil servant Sue Grey, with a handful of Tory MPs submitting a letter of no confidence in him. Last month, Boris Johnson was issued with a fixed penalty notice by the Metropolitan Police after he was found to have been present at a Downing Street party during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. Despite the Partygate controversy and fury surrounding it, polling expert Sir John Curtice believes it is “unlikely” the Conservatives will suffer a disastrous set of results in the local elections.
However while senior party ministers have sought to throw their support behind the Prime Minister, there are growing fears some Tories could wait until after the local elections to ramp up the pressure on him to resign.
Sir John told Express.co.uk: “They (the Conservative Party) will unlikely suffer a disastrous set of results and therefore we can expect the 10 Downing Street spinning operation doing its best to persuade Tory MPs that it is not so bad after all.
“But there are just three things we have to remember.
“The first is some Tory MPs have withheld their hand until after the local elections anyway because they didn’t want to instigate a challenge at the moment.
Local elections: Boris Johnson has been sent three warnings by Sir John Curtice (Image: GETTY / BBC)
Local elections: The Prime Minister and his Conservative Party are facing a huge test (Image: GETTY)
“Some have the view Boris must go because his behaviour has been ethically unacceptable.
“However, the crucial bit is how many Tory MPs are now saying to themselves ‘If I get called by my local radio station, am I willing to defend the Prime Minister or am I so uncomfortable that I am no longer willing to do it?’
The polling expert continued: “It depends on how many Tory MPs in a post-election situation when the immediate need isn’t to rock the boat.
“Much will depend on if there are more fines, what Sue Grey comes up with and what the Committee of Privileges comes up with.
Local elections: Sir John Curtice sent a warning to the Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)
“We can expect Number 10 to be trying to constantly kick the can down the road and from his point of view, the advantage of the Committee of Privileges having a go at this is they will now try to say we should wait until all three enquiries are over.
“We’ll wait and see if Tory MPs are that patient or not but I’m kind of thinking it’s probably the psychology of Tory MPs that matters at least as much as what comes out of the ballot box.”
Earlier today, Mr Johnson insisted he would lead the Tories into the next general election, due to take place in 2024 at the latest, as he faces the possibility of a difficult set of local elections.
Under Conservative Party rules, there must be a vote on the Prime Minister’s future if 54 MPs submit a letter of no confidence to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady.
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Local elections: Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to resign (Image: GETTY)
Local elections: George Eustice threw his support behind the Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)
But Mr Johnson has insisted he is “absolutely confident that we have the right agenda for the country”, adding: “I have a big mandate to deliver.”
When asked if he will still be Prime Minister heading into the next general election, he replied: “Of course. And I’m also very confident we will succeed at the next election.”
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Eustice said: “All Prime Ministers will always be very conscious of the mood in their parliamentary party because no government can get anything done unless it enjoys the support of the parliamentary party as a whole.
Local elections: Councils to watch in England (Image: EXPRESS)
“So of course the Prime Minister will be thinking about these things.
“But for now, he’s also making sure that we deal with some of the international challenges like the problems in Ukraine, that we give them the support they need, that we help steer our economy through this period where we’re getting some inflationary pressures.
“And up and down the country we’ve got councillors fighting elections on local issues, things like planning, things like local council tax, and we’re doing our part and the Prime Minister is playing his part to support our councillors in those campaigns for tomorrow’s elections.”