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Boris Johnson faces a fraught week as he returns to Parliament after the Easter recess to confront growing discontent among MPs.
After being fined by the police for attending an impromptu celebration for his birthday in No10 during lockdown, the Prime Minister is preparing to apologise to the Commons.
Johnson will seek to ‘set the record straight’ on Partygate and address claims he misled MPs
Many of Mr Johnson’s toughest critics on the backbenches have said ousting him amid the Ukraine crisis would be a mistake – but dissenting voices are now emerging.
They include Lord Wolfson who quit as a justice minister over the scandal, former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley and senior Tory Tobias Ellwood.
Backbenchers Nigel Mills and Craig Whittaker have called for the Prime Minister to quit – suggesting Mr Johnson could face a tricky period once politicians return to Westminster next week.
Yesterday Andrew Mitchell, the former Cabinet minister, said he still believed Mr Johnson should go.
In February he said the allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in No10 were like ‘battery acid’ on the reputation of the Tories.
However, he told BBC Radio 4 yesterday that the ‘key issues’ facing the country now are the war in Ukraine, the Rwanda policy and the local elections.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said yesterday that the Met’s decision to fine the PM will not negatively impact his party at the local elections.
He said he is confident voters will back Tory candidates on May 5, adding: ‘I think voters can make the difference between national issues which are rightly angering people. And I’m angry.
‘I think the Prime Minister’s actions were completely unacceptable. I said that back in January and had it not been for a war in Ukraine, my position would be the same.
‘But I also have to look at the situation where we have atrocities happening in Europe and innocent men, women and children being murdered on a daily basis by war criminal Vladimir Putin and his troops.
‘These national issues are clearly dominating much of the national coverage, but people also know that they’re electing local councillors for the next five years.’
But speculation that the party is nervous about the fallout from the PM’s fine has been fuelled by an absence of Mr Johnson in Scottish and Welsh Tory campaign literature.
The Telegraph said he has also been kept away from the launch of the local elections in England, and he does not appear in online campaign material.
However, Tory sources said it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest Mr Johnson had been airbrushed out of the campaign.
Source: Daily Mail