Johnson Loyalists Have Some Lacklustre Comebacks For The Resigning Tories

A few snarky comments from the pro-prime minister camp have emerged over the past 24 hours.
Nadine Dorries, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadhim Zahawi have all backed Johnson
Nadine Dorries, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadhim Zahawi have all backed Johnson

Boris Johnson may have lost 13 – and counting – Tory MPs from his government since Tuesday evening, but his greatest allies aren’t going down without a fight.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid handed in their resignations last night after another week of devastating headline for the prime minister, this time over the Chris Pincher crisis.

A flurry of fellow Conservatives have followed suit and some political pundits speculated that the end might be near for Johnson without the backing of his inner circle.

Amid this chaos, the over-the-top defences from the prime minister’s loyalist supporters appear even more bizarre.

Johnson will be PM for ‘21 years’

This strange claim comes from Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities and government efficiency minister who is an ardent Johnson supporter.

Even as the resignation letters were still coming in, he told Sky News: ”I’m going for [former PM Robert] Walpole, Walpole did 21 years – and I should like the prime minister do better than Walpole.”

Walpole served between 1721 and 1742, when politics was obviously a very different situation, and only a small subsection of the population could vote in general elections.

PM still won a mandate in 2019

Rees-Mogg later tried to point out that, despite the growing number of resignations, Johnson was still given a mandate from the British public when he won the general election by a landslide back in 2019.

It’s worth noting that Johnson is also elected as leader of the Conservatives by members of his own parliamentary party – making his position particular difficult if he loses the support of his own MPs.

Ousting PM will be ‘breaking the rules’

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries, one of the first to tweet about her ongoing support for Johnson after Javid and Sunak’s resignation, also tried to undermine any supposed attempts to remove the prime minister from office.

Reports emerged last night that the 1922 backbencher committee could change the rules around holding a confidence vote in the prime minister, so another ballot could go ahead a month after the last one (rather than 12 months later).

Dorries replied: “It’s truly amazing that MPs who (wrongly) claim the PM ‘broke the rules’ are now competing to be elected to the ’22 committee so that they can be given the chance to...break the rules.”

Presumably, Dorries is referring to Johnson’s critics who pointed out he broke the law by breaching Covid rules, for which he received a fine, or his alleged breach of the ministerial code over deliberately misleading parliament.

The 1922 committee are trying to change the rules so that the Conservative MPs can again have their say over the prime minister’s leadership of their party and time in office.

It’s easier to ‘walk away’ than stay in post

Newly appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi defended Johnson during an interview on Sky News this morning, by saying it was harder remain in government than to leave.

“The team in government today is the team that will deliver,” he claimed.

This came before another flurry of resignation letters came in from people in government roles.

Questioning importance around more junior roles

Lucy Allan, a Tory backbencher, liked a tweet from the commentator Sophie Corocan, which appeared to undermine the stream of resignations from more junior members of government.

The tweet reads: “All of these trade envoys and PPS’ are posting their resignations as if anyone actually knows who they are.”

However, Allan also appeared disgruntled when No.10 tweeted that Michelle Donelan had just been promoted to education secretary, by responding with just one word – “Seriously”.


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