Boris Johnson looked to sure up confidence in his leadership by throwing a boozy bash at a central London hotel last night.
The prime minister hosted around 200 Conservative politicians for dinner and drinks at the Park Plaza just hours after the Met Police handed out the first 20 fines in relation to law-breaking parties at No10 and in Whitehall.
Those in attendance walked past families who lost loved ones to Covid, who held a candlelit vigil in protest outside London’s Park Plaza hotel and shouted at MPs: “Off to another party, are we?”
Tory MP Michael Fabricant brazenly told reporters “we’re gonna have a lot of fun” before entering the hotel, while former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith boasted “morale’s pretty good” among Conservative backbenchers.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were among the Johnson allies at the event.
Inside the posh hotel, the PM is said to have joked that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s did not have to face the 1922 committee of backbench Tories and its chairman Sir Graham Brady, who is the only person who knows how many MPs have called on the PM to quit.
As Robert Peston noted, it’s unlikely such jokes would travel well outside his own close political family, but in tonight’s forum of the Tory Party “selectorate” it apparently did the trick.
Yet it is clear that his support across the party is starting to wane.
According to Times Radio correspondent Matt Chorley, talk in the tearoom is that many Tory MPs decided to sack off the event at the Park Plaza, with one saying:
“Cheap wine, cheap food, in a second class hotel? I can’t be fagged with that.”
Earlier in the day veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale, who previously told PA that Mr Johnson was a “dead man walking” politically, said: “If it becomes apparent that the Prime Minister has been fined… then there clearly are serious questions that are going to have to be answered.”
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen also said a “day of reckoning” may come in regard to the partygate scandal”, but added that it is not at this moment in time.
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