You'll need a panzer division to oust me from No10 vows Boris

6 February 2022, 15:12

Johnson has told friends a tank division will be required to force him out of No 10.
Johnson has told friends a tank division will be required to force him out of No 10. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

The PM has told his allies that critics will need a tank division to oust him from No 10 as he clings to power in the fallout from the Sue Gray report.

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One senior advisor told the Sunday Times: "He’s making very clear that they’ll have to send a Panzer division to get him out of there."

Boris Johnson has faced calls to quit his job as PM from within his own party in recent weeks, including from Sir David Davis and Aaron Bell.

Mr Bell criticised the PM in Parliament after describing attending a family funeral with only 10 people in attendance.

He announced he had submitted a letter of no confidence to the 1922 Committee on Saturday.

The PM has repeatedly told the Commons he will not resign.

Rumours around the possibility of a no confidence vote have been circling in Parliament since Sue Gray began her investigation into gatherings at Downing Street during coronavirus lockdowns.

At least 54 Conservative MPs must submit letters to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, in order to force a no confidence vote.

If lost, the Conservatives would have to appoint a new leader.

But this is not the same as a parliamentary no confidence vote, which can force a general election.

Opposition parties are also calling for the PM to resign, with Ian Blackford almost being kicked out of the House of Commons for saying Johnson had misled the House of Commons.

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This followed an explosive exchange between Leader of the Opposition and the PM on Monday in which Johnson said Sir Keir "spent most of his time [as DPP] prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

This claim has been proven to be false, as Sir Keir had no direct role in the Savile investigation while Director of Public Prosecutions.

The statement was met with widespread disgust, with critics saying Mr Johnson had no regard for the victims of child sexual abuse, and that he was spreading far-right conspiracy theories.

He has refused to retract or apologise for his comments, but after calls from across Parliament he did "clarify" his claim, saying he was not referring to Starmer's personal role in the case.

When pressed on the issue, deputy PM Dominic Raab this week refused to repeat the comments, saying couldn't "substantiate" the claim.

Read more: Desperate Boris reveals fresh No10 team in bid to save premiership amid Partygate fallout

Ms Gray concluded that some of the events "should not have been allowed to take place" or "develop" in the way that they had.

The Met Police is now investigating 12 of the gatherings, and Ms Gray said she was "extremely limited" as to what she could publish to avoid prejudicing the Met enquiries.

She concluded there was a "failure of leadership and judgement" in No 10 and the Cabinet Office.

Ms Gray also criticised the "excessive consumption" of alcohol on the premises.

Mr Johnson told the Commons he accepted the findings in full, and announced plans for an Office of the Prime Minister as part of a shake up of No10.

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But after his Jimmy Savile "slur" against Keir Starmer, No 10 policy chief Munira Mirza resigned after urging the PM to apologise for the claims.

She said she believed it was "wrong" for the PM to refer to Savile, and there was no "fair or reasonable basis for the assertion."

Following her out the door were senior civil servant Martin Reynolds, director of communications Jack Doyle and chief of staff Dan Rosenfield.

Mr Johnson has announced replacements for the roles, including minister for the Cabinet Office Steve Barclay, who is to become the new chief of staff.

This move has received criticism on social media with political figures questioning how Mr Barclay will fill both roles at once.

No 10 is said to be bracing for the coming week, with the possibility of a no confidence vote not being dismissed.