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'Kindest thing' for Boris Johnson’s legacy would be for him to go, David Davis tells LBC

23 January 2022, 10:20 | Updated: 23 January 2022, 11:23

By Elizabeth Haigh

Senior Conservative MP David Davis today told LBC that the party is "paralysed" with Boris Johnson as leader because of his handling of the Partygate scandal.

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In an exclusive interview on Swarbrick on Sunday, the former Brexit secretary said he believes the "kindest thing" for Mr Johnson's reputation and legacy as leader would be for him to no longer be PM, adding he could be out of the job in "weeks or months."

But he also said: "My fear is this is going to go on forever."

"This is agony for the country. It's agony for the Conservative party."

He slammed the current scandals surrounding the PM and his government over parties at No10 during lockdown, saying: "My fear is we suffer a death of a thousand cuts and this goes on for six months or more."

Mr Davis said the government is currently in "panicky survival mode."

"Truth be told, the country’s got threats in Ukraine, there are other threats, with respect to immigration, the question of how we explore Brexit.

"None of this can happen while the organisation is paralysed.

"What we need now is deliberate, careful, authoritative policies."

He added: "What it all comes down to is the threat to Boris.

Read more: 'In the name of God, Go': Former Brexit Secretary David Davis calls for PM to quit

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"Frankly, even if we have a vote and he wins, at least it puts a line under it and we can get on with real life.

"From his point of view, his own reputation down the years, it’s the kindest thing.

"Cut the line now and take the fact that he’s made some historic differences to the country as his legacy."

A long-time Conservative and former minister under the PM, Mr Davis called for Johnson to resign in PMQs on Wednesday, becoming the first Tory MP to tell him to his face to go.

Mr Davis told the Commons: "You've sat there too long for the good you've done.

"In the name of God, go."

This was a quote from a 1940 speech in the Commons which was shortly followed by Neville Chamberlain's resignation.

Recent polling shows that since the Partygate scandal broke, Labour has jumped to almost a 10 point lead on the Conservatives.

Read more: Senior Tory calls for probe after ex-minister said she was sacked because of ‘Muslimness’

At the same time, a growing number of rebels are gearing up for a bid to oust Mr Johnson as Prime Minister.

A group of more than 20 Conservative MPs elected in 2019 – many representing formerly Labour "red wall" constituencies – reportedly met in a gathering dubbed the "pork pie plot" this week.

One of the options discussed was a collective submission of letters of no confidence.

At least 54 are needed to trigger a leadership vote, and an unknown number of Conservative MPs have already submitted them.

Only chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, knows how many letters have been submitted.

However there are suggestions some MPs may wait for the outcome of Sue Gray's report before submitting their letters, which is due early next week.

Read more: Boris Johnson is 'unfit for office', says former Scottish Tory leader

Read more: A dozen Tory MPs plotting to oust PM 'blackmailed by whips', says anti-sleaze chief

Meanwhile, the row over an ever-growing list of lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street has been going on for months now.

But it has been recently reignited after an email showed a pre-planned gathering on May 20 2020 – an event the Prime Minister admitted he attended, if only for a short time – as well as revelations about two parties held hours before Prince Philip's funeral.

Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to rule out resigning after being accused of lying to Parliament by Dominic Cummings.

The Prime Minister has insisted he believed a gathering in No10's garden during the first lockdown would be a "work event".

Mr Cummings said he is prepared to "swear under oath" that the Prime Minister lied to Parliament about attending the "BYOB" party.

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