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18 January 2022

Commons Confidential: Will Allegra be next to turn on Boris Johnson?

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Besieged by vengeful Dominic Cummings launching explosive salvoes against his former co-conspirator, Downing Street is now worried that Allegra Stratton will also assail Boris Johnson. The former spokesperson who tearfully quit after a leaked video showed her laughing during Covid party cover-up rehearsals is thought to be considering numerous offers to tell all. Stratton, whispered a friend, regrets leaving Rishi Sunak to work for the current Prime Minister. Becoming a whistleblower who exposes the truth about Johnson and his court might be a decent option. Et tu, Allegra?

Marched up to the top of the hill by the Grand Old Duke of Downing Street to save Owen Paterson’s skin only to be marched swiftly down again, angry 2019ers are giving Tory whips the collywobbles. My snout murmured that 15 of the last election’s intake are threatening to send no-confidence letters to the 1922 Committee if Sue Gray’s report shows the PM breached lockdown laws then lied. The group is said to include the parliamentary private secretary Danny Kruger, Michael Gove’s bag carrier in the Levelling Down department. Johnson’s fate may be in the hands of new MPs who owed their seats to him in 2019 if they calculate that their survival prospects would improve under new management.

One wannabe new manager, the Instagram Secretary Liz Truss, is called “Queenie” in Westminster. It’s no reference to a regal photo shoot that channelled the Liz of Buck House but the psychopathic maniac with a childlike exterior played by Miranda Richardson in Blackadder II. In an era of personality politics, she should look on the bright side. Labour discontents moan that interesting Keir Starmer would kill to be compared to Baldrick or Lord Percy Percy.

Talking of Labour, MPs report that constituents no longer chummily call Johnson “Boris”, which may be a little change of greater significance. The opposition’s hierarchy also recognises that focusing exclusively on Johnson could leave them in the lurch if he goes. Enforcing discipline to attack the Conservatives instead of the PM personally will be difficult when he’s at the centre of the storm and his is a juicy scalp. Labour bigwigs also want the party to label the governing party “Conservatives” rather than Tories, after discovering the C-word is more toxic in Red Wall seats than a description coined as an insult in the 17th century.

Tipped along with hapless email-writer Martin Reynolds for the axe in Downing Street’s “Night of the Long Knives”, the chief of staff Dan Rosenfield can read the runes. By pure coincidence I’ve heard he’s touted in the city for non-exec jobs.

[See also: Commons Confidential: Will Sue Gray doom Boris Johnson?]

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