Gavin Williamson is reportedly in line for a knighthood in the next honours list in return for his silence.
Tim Shipman, the chief political commentator at the Sunday Times, said the former education secretary is among a raft of people tipped for honours in order to “keep them quiet”.
The former culture secretary John Whittingdale and Nick Gibb, whose department oversaw the controversial derivation of GCE Advanced Level grades in place of exams cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are also tipped to be knighted.
Operation Red Meat
The plans reportedly form part of Johnson’s ‘Operation Red Meat’ which will be put in place to win back Tory MPs following a string of damaging allegations.
The prime minister is set to unveil a policy announcement blitz and a cull of his inner circle as he looks to survive the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into so-called partygate.
Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary who sent an email inviting staff to “bring your own booze” in the No 10 garden during the first coronavirus lockdown, and Mr Reynolds’ deputy Stuart Glassborow are likely to be forced out of Downing Street, according to the newspaper.
No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield’s position could also be at risk, it suggested.
Calls to resign
It comes as a sixth Conservative MP called for Mr Johnson to quit, arguing that a change of senior officials would not reverse the “terminal damage” done to the Prime Minister by the allegations.
Former children’s minister Tim Loughton, in a post published on Facebook on Saturday, said: “It is not down to a simple Government policy change or a sacking of ministers or officials to put things right.
“In this case all roads lead back to Downing Street and the person whose name is on the front door.”
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith was also heavily critical of the No 10 regime, labelling the possible lockdown breaches “unforgivable” and blaming it on a “lazy and slack” culture in Downing Street.