Boris Johnson is committed to “upping [the government’s] game” and “improving” the boozy culture in Downing Street, Tory party chair Oliver Dowden has said.
Dowden said the many lockdown-breaking parties that happened in Downing Street were “unacceptable” and that “I’m angry about what happened”.
There is now overwhelming evidence there was a culture of Covid rule-breaking throughout 2020 and the start of 2021 among Johnson’s staff, with the Prime Minister attending some events himself.
This includes bombshell reports in the Telegraph on Thursday night that Downing Street partied on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, which saw only 30 socially distanced guests allowed to attend – something Dowden himself called “disgusting”.
The party saw Downing Street staff sent with suitcases to the local supermarket to stock up on bottles of alcohol.
The Sunday Times reports today that Johnson is preparing to clear out his staff and place the blame for the long-running scandal on a boozy culture among his staff.
“It was totally wrong the events that happened, it’s absolutely right the Prime Minister apologised. He will need to take further steps and he will take further steps when he makes a statement to the House of Commons,” Dowden told Sky News.
“He is committed to upping our game, we must improve the culture, we must do better. I hear people’s anger, I know it and we’ve got to respond to that.
“I’m angry about what happened, the Prime Minister is angry about what happened, it should not have happened, there needs to be a change in the culture, it’s important and it’s right to ensure we find the full facts of what happened.”
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to report her findings into the many allegations of lockdown breaking in Downing Street as early as next week.
Many Tory MPs, and cabinet ministers, are waiting for the report to make a decision of whether to stick by Johnson as Tory leader or not.
Currently, only six Conservative MPs have come out to call for the Prime Minister to resign.
“It’s important we first get the facts of everything that happened. We need to get all the facts, that’s what Sue Gray’s doing through her report, we need to look how that stacks up against the rules at the time,” Dowden said.
The campaign to save Johnson’s premiership – widely reported to be codenamed Operation Save Big Dog in Number 10 – is reported to include clearing out Downing Street staff and unveiling a series of populist policies.
This includes freezing the BBC licence fee for two years, bringing in the military to stop Channel migrants crossing from France and unveiling a new skills programme for 1.5m people out of work.
He is also set to ban staff from drinking alcohol in Downing Street.
The Sunday Times reports that Johnson launched a tirade against his aides this week, asking them: “How has all this been allowed to happen? How has it come to this? How haven’t you sorted this out?”