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Boris Johnson clings on as Sue Gray’s party report due next week… under-fire PM vows to fight any vote of no confidence after senior Tory tells him ‘in the name of God, go’

The former Stormont senior civil servant investigating allegations of Downing Street breaches of Covid regulations is expected to report next week, the under-fire Prime Minister has indicated.

With his political career on life support, Boris Johnson apologised once again yesterday in the House of Commons for the partygate saga which threatens to be the death knell for his premiership.

But he said it was for Whitehall mandarin Sue Gray’s inquiry “to come forward with an explanation of what happened”, as he indicated the report would be published next week.

Ms Gray is a former permanent secretary in Conor Murphy’s Finance Department and took a career break from the Civil Service to run a pub called The Cove Bar in Newry with her husband, a country singer named Bill Conlon, in the 1980s.

Despite what Mr Johnson told MPs about the release of her report, his official spokesman said: “The timing is rightly a matter for the investigation, my understanding is their work is still continuing.”

The PM yesterday said he will fight any no confidence vote launched against him by his own MPs and expects to fight the next General Election, No 10 has said, after he was urged to resign by a Tory grandee and lost one of his newest MPs to Labour. The Prime Minister was told by former minister and senior Tory MP David Davis to “in the name of God, go”, soon after Bury South MP Christian Wakeford who was elected in 2019 with just a 402 majority  staged a dramatic defection to Labour minutes before Prime Minister’s Questions began.

The threshold of 54 letters from MPs needed to trigger a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister, could be reached today.

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The PM has insisted that “nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules” and he believed he was attending a work event.

Senior Tory Mr Davis told Mr Johnson he had spent weeks defending him from “angry constituents”, including by reminding them of the “successes of Brexit”.

He said: “I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take. Yesterday, he did the opposite of that so I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain. 

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”

Speaking afterwards, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also urged Mr Johnson to quit.

The Foyle MP said the entire bandwidth of government must be dedicated to addressing the challenges facing people rather than trying to dig a political leader with no credibility or moral authority out of a hole.

Speaking from Westminster, he said: “Boris Johnson’s desperate attempt to cling on to power is now a dangerous distraction from the substantial challenges facing governments across these islands. The circus that has followed the British Prime Minister over the last number of weeks is preventing serious action on the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“It is pathetic to watch Boris Johnson blame everyone else for his own blind arrogance and negligent behaviour. The people who make the rules must know what they are and they must follow them. The longer this goes on, the more credibility is sapped from the institutions of government.

“A civil servant’s report cannot insulate Johnson from hard political realities. He is the problem and the only thing he can do to resolve it is resign.”

Mr Johnson went into the Commons with his premiership hanging in the balance, as a group of Tories who won their seats in the 2019 election landslide appeared to have lost faith in their boss.

Mr Wakeford accused Mr Johnson of being “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves” as he switched sides.

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