Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
24 January 2022

Nusrat Ghani puts a weakened Downing Street under further pressure

Whatever the result of Sue Gray’s inquiry, it won’t re-establish Boris Johnson’s dominance over the cabinet and the parliamentary Conservative Party.

By Stephen Bush

The government faces another inquiry after Boris Johnson bowed to pressure from within his cabinet and the parliamentary party to investigate Nusrat Ghani’s claims that she was told that her sacking as a junior minister was a result of her Muslim faith. Mark Spencer, the Chief Whip, has identified himself as the whip in question and has denied the allegations.

It would be simplistic to see the fact that Sajid Javid and Nadhim Zahawi both opted to speak out yesterday about the allegations solely as a result of the Prime Minister’s political weakness. Javid in particular has consistently been willing to assert himself on this issue: he used his 2019 leadership bid to bounce the rest of the contenders into holding the Swaran Singh inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and still regards the issue as unfinished business.

But it is nonetheless true that one reason why the Cabinet Office will be tasked with looking into the allegations is that Johnson’s Downing Street is too weak to resist almost any form of cabinet pressure right now. As rows continue to circle about the government’s planned tax rises and the rising cost of living, even if by some miracle Sue Gray’s report does draw a line under “partygate”, the one thing it won’t do is re-establish Johnson’s dominance over the cabinet and the parliamentary party.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Topics in this article: , ,