Former Tory Leader Says Partygate Has Been "Hugely Damaging" For Boris Johnson
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has described the fallout from ‘partygate’ as “hugely damaging” for both Boris Johnson and the Tory party.
Duncan Smith said he believed people are “very angry” about the saga and that “many of them have seriously lost trust” in their Prime Minister.
“It’s been incredibly damaging,” the former Tory leader told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.
“These are big, big crises that are hitting government and the Prime Minister… [who] is the man that takes overall responsibility,” he added.
Duncan Smith felt that the fallout from allegations of a string of parties in Downing Street during lockdown spread further than Johnson himself, and was corroding the reputation of the Tory party.
“Your leader of a party when in government is your party in a way,” he said. "What damages that individual also damages the party. It damages the reputation of all of us.”
Last week, the fallout from partygate scandal escalated when five senior aides to the Prime Minister resigned from their posts.
Director of policy Munira Mirza, was the first to unexpectedly announce her resignation on Thursday, closely followed by communications director Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and principle private secretary Martin Reynolds.
On Friday morning Elena Narozanski, a member of the Number 10 policy unit, became the fifth to quit her position.
Mirza, one of the most senior figures in Downing Street, said her sensational resignation was triggered by Johnson's failure to apologise for falsely claiming Keir Starmer failed to prosecute sex offender Jimmy Savile.
In an effort to fight back against detractors in his party’s ranks, on Saturday evening Johnson announced new additions to his Downing Street team.
Former GB News presenter and spokesperson for Johnson during his stint as London mayor, Guto Harri, will be the new Downing Street communications chief.
MP Steve Barclay, who currently serves as the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will now add chief of staff to the Prime Minister to his portfolio or roles.
When asked whether the Conservatives can recover from partygate with Johnson as leader, Smith told the BBC that “none of us know the answer to that question”, but did not call for the Prime Minister to resign.
“My instinct at the moment is most colleagues still take the view we’ve got to sort this out.”
Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng defended the Prime Minister on Sunday morning, claiming Johnson has “not at all” lost the confidence of his party.
“I’ve been an MP for 12 years, in all that time leadership issues have bubbled to the surface,” Kwarteng told the BBC.
“On balance, if you look at the party in the round, people are just very focused on delivering on the manifesto, delivering on prosperity and bouncing back from the pandemic.”
On the looming cost-of-living crisis expected to hit households across the UK as the price cap on energy is lifted in April, Kwarteng said people do not have to accept that they will now be “made poorer”.
But the energy secretary echoed remarks made by chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this week and agreed that people “may have to” get used to paying higher bills because government “cannot control” the global energy market.
“There were lots of interventions that the chancellor made last week, which I fully support,” Kwarteng said.
“It’s a global question. Energy prices and demand for gas isn’t something that is set in the UK – it’s a global price. What we’ve seen over the past few months is a massive increase in global prices.”
Questions have also been raised this weekend over Carrie Johnson's role and supposed influence over operations in Number 10 after an extract from a new book by Lord Ashcroft was published in the Mail on Sunday, which accuses her of intervening in the workings of government.
Kwarteng expressed support for the Prime Minister's wife, describing her as a "strong supporter of the Prime Minister”.
“She has political views like anyone else,” he told Times Radio. “She's entitled to those views."
The extract published by the Mail on Sunday quotes “someone who knows Johnson” as saying that she has has led the Prime Minister to "squander" her leadership and “his potential to transform the country”.
“It's like a toxic relationship,” the insider claims. “He's isolated. It's very sad. Politically, there is no agenda – he's just drifting.”
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