A Tory MP claimed the BBC launched a “coup attempt” against Boris Johnson, prompting criticism that his statement is “dangerous”.
Michael Fabricant’s comments came after he came across a news bulletin showing backlash against the prime minister after a series of revelations of lockdown parties at Downing Street.
He said: “BBC Radio 4 Bulletin leads this morning with a manufactured story of what some MPs have said to the BBC.
“This is not news reporting an event. This relentless news creation is a coup attempt against the prime minister.”
Fabricant also rejected claims by other MPs that their email inboxes were full of complaints about Boris Johnson, saying he only “had 31 identical emails from different people calling for Boris to resign” and “about 20 more from constituents with the same call but in their own words”.
This was “far fewer than most campaigns” who wrote to their MPs, he argued.
‘More upset with truth than with rule-breaking’
Layla Moran, a prominent Lib Dem MP, hit out at the Tory’s comments: “People died alone whilst No 10 partied it up, this is a fact. Yet, Tory MPs seem more upset with the truth coming out than they do with this endless tide of rule-breaking parties.
“If Michael Fabricant doesn’t like these stories dominating the media, then he should submit his letter of no confidence and tell Boris Johnson to resign.”
Meanwhile, Lord Barwell, an ex-Tory MP who worked as Theresa May’s Downing Street chief of staff, also reacted to Fabricant’s statements. “If it wasn’t so dangerous it would be laughable,” Barwell said.
It comes as the prime minister is proving more and more unpopular among voters, with the Tories at least 10 points behind in polls.
The latest revelations of Covid lockdown parties suggested Downing Street staff has held ‘wine-time Fridays’ throughout the pandemic and Boris Johnson regularly witnessed the events.
According to The Mirror, the prime minister encouraged aides to “let off steam” despite the government’s own Covid rules prohibiting indoor gatherings.
Staff even purchased a £142 drinks fridge to keep bottles cool. Trips to the supermarket stocking up on booze in a suitcase on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral were not an isolated event, with sources telling The Mirrror that aides went to the local Tesco in turns on Fridays to fill up the 34-bottle capacity fridge.
Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace this week after it emerged that more parties were held in No10 the day before Prince Philip’s funeral last April.
Two Downing Street leaving parties were held on 16 April 2021 – one for Boris Johnson’s top spin doctor James Slack and the other one for the prime minister’s photographer.
Hours later, the Queen would sit grieving alone in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.