Boris Johnson labelled 'brilliant escapologist' by Bower

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With Sir Keir Starmer on the brink of resigning over allegedly breaking lockdown rules at a pre-arranged event on April 30 in Durham last year, the Prime Minister hopes to shake off his own Partygate travails with a Spring Reception after the Queen’s speech. 

But Mr Johnson will be vying with a rival drinks event hosted by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at the Foreign Office. Ms Truss is one of the favourites to succeed the Prime Minister if he quits.

It comes as Tory backbenchers have warned that Mr Johnson is not in the clear yet for being fined for breaking Covid restrictions and could still face a coup later this year.

The revelation follows Sir Keir reportedly telling close allies he will have to resign as Labour leader if he is fined.

The ‘beergate’ event in Durham last year involved more than £200 of curry being consumed and involved activists and MPs including Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner.

It also has been alleged that Labour and Starmer were misleading in their excuses first claiming Rayner was not there and later admitting she was, and, second, claiming it was not preplanned before a memo proving it was planned emerged.

But if Starmer quits, Conservative insiders have told that the Prime Minister “will be forced to resign too”.

One Tory MP who has been a critic of Partygate told “Starmer going and forcing Boris out is actually the perfect scenario. A proper clearing of the stables.”

But in a hope to rebuild alliances and friendships within the Parliamentary party Mr Johnson has invited Conservative MPs to a spring reception in the Downing Street gardens.

One MP joked: “At least it’s not a bring your own bottle this time!” 

The MP was referring to one of the events where fines have been issued to Downing Street officials.

Another added: “The Prime Minister needs friends, it has been a bruising few months and this is a chance to start a resetting of relations with the parliamentary party. He can mend fences and boost morale a bit.”

It also follows a tough set of local election results for the Conservatives where they lost key councils in London like Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet.

But with victories over Labour in Harrow and Croydon the Tories also made some gains while their vote was not badly harmed in pro-Brexit red wall areas.

Instead, it appears to be Starmer who is on the ropes and has also faced criticism from Corbynistas over his failure to make significant electoral gains.

Shadow cabinet members believe the strategy of “banging on about Partygate” has failed and has come at the exclusion of big issues like the cost of living crisis.


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Meanwhile, Tory MPs are looking at potential successors to Mr Johnson with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace currently the favourite in polls ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

However, Home secretary Priti Patel is garnering support as a potential candidate within the party following her deal to send illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel in small boats to Rwanda.

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