Boris Johnson ‘a dead man walking’ over Downing Street garden party, says senior Tory

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Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary, who addressed the weekly meeting of the 1922 committee on Wednesday, told reporters that “given everything, it was right for the Prime Minister to apologise” and confirmed he believed that Mr Johnson had done enough.

But a number of backbenchers expressed dismay, with one MP telling The Telegraph that a significant number of local party members had quit in recent weeks. Another said: “A colleague in the ‘Red Wall’ has had 800 emails about this –which is bigger than their majority.”

Tory MP Julian Sturdy said: “It is already clear that the Prime Minister’s assertion that this was a work-related event will not wash with the British public, who at the relevant time were making significant sacrifices.” He vowed to hold Mr Johnson to account.

Stephen Hammond, another Conservative MP, also cast doubt on Mr Johnson’s explanation and said: “It clearly was not a work event, and that is the problem. I think it’s pretty surprising the PM wasn’t briefed to that effect.”

Privately, another Conservative commented: “The problem with a s—show is someone else has to clean it up”, while a member of the 2019 intake warned: “We are not happy. Our best asset has now become our biggest liability. We know this is not the end of it. There is more to come.”

One MP said that while Mr Johnson had “not changed any minds”, there had been “no killer blow today”, adding: “He’s taken on a lot of water and is listing, but not quite sunk yet.”

Sir Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, told Sky News he felt the Prime Minister had made “the most abject and fulsome apology”, while another Tory MP said: “He’s done the right thing. He was bang to rights and the evidence was against him. He had to apologise. It’s not the end of it, but politics is about much more than what happened in May 2020.”

Mark Harper, a former chief whip, said he wanted to wait for the conclusion of Sue Gray’s inquiry, adding: “When we know all the facts, it will be up to every Conservative MP to consider what action needs to be taken to ensure our country has the leadership it deserves.”

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