Dominic Cummings has said there are “lots” of photos of parties in No 10 that will “inevitably get out” as Boris Johnson continued to be battered by allegations of rule-breaking festivities in the run-up to last Christmas.
The former chief aide-turned-enemy dismissed defences from the Prime Minister’s allies that he would not have known about celebrations going on under his roof amid signs Mr Johnson’s popularity is slumping.
Government chief whip Mark Spencer insisted Downing Street staff “were not drinking alcohol” and partying during Covid restrictions after it emerged the Prime Minister’s press chief addressed staff at one event last Christmas.
Jack D is gonner but 🛒 will be thinking: 'not now, gotta keep him as the sacrifice for Case's inquiry then - Im shocked shocked I tell you to discover there was a party & I was misled - do a deal with Jack to keep all the wallpaper horror buried...'— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) December 10, 2021
No 10 said Mr Johnson retained full confidence in Jack Doyle to serve as communications director despite ITV reporting he addressed up to 50 people and made a speech at one party on December 18.
Mr Doyle is under scrutiny over his attendance at the event, during which the PA news agency understands he presented awards to the press team.
Asked if Mr Doyle had offered his resignation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters on Friday: “Not that I’m aware of.”
But, in what appeared to be a later development, the BBC reported that Mr Johnson had since turned down former journalist Mr Doyle’s offer of resignation.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove, asked by broadcasters how Mr Doyle could remain in post, said he did not want to “pre-empt or cut across the Cabinet Secretary’s investigation”, adding that it was “vital we get a rapid and full account of events”.
Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street in November last year amid a bitter row in No 10, said on Twitter Mr Doyle was a “gonner” (sic) but predicted Mr Johnson would keep him on staff until after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s inquiry into the alleged parties and then use him “as the sacrifice”.
“Also there’s lots of pictures of the parties which will inevitably get out. And invite lists beyond No10, to other departments…,” he added.
Answering questions on his paid-for blog on Friday, Mr Cummings tried to rubbish suggestions the Prime Minister would not have known about parties going on in Downing Street.
“He knew but I think did not attend,” the former Vote Leave ally of the Prime Minister said.
He added: “Tho remember the geography – to get upstairs he has to walk past that area where he could see it – if he was not Chequers…”
The pressure on Mr Johnson comes as he faces questions over whether he misled his ministerial standards adviser during an investigation into the funding of lavish refurbishments to his flat in No 11 and as Tory MPs voice their anger over fresh coronavirus restrictions.
Polling suggested Mr Johnson’s popularity has dropped to an all-time low amid the turmoil.
A YouGov poll conducted over Wednesday and Thursday said the Prime Minister’s net favourability rating has fallen 11 points in a month to -42%.
A separate poll for the Times suggested the Tories had dropped to their worst rating in nearly a year, with Labour given a four-point lead in research that will alarm Conservative backbenchers further.
Mounting a defence of the Prime Minister, chief whip Mr Spencer insisted he “will not have lied about any parties”.
The Sherwood MP told BBC Radio Nottingham: “I’m assured that everybody in that building played by the rules, and that’s why the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to do a thorough investigation to find out and establish the facts.”
Mr Spencer said he did not go to any parties in No 10 and sought to explain how the Prime Minister might not be aware of what was happening elsewhere in the building.
“When you describe it as a house, it’s a department of government, this is a huge, huge building, literally with hundreds and hundreds of offices and rooms. No single person could account for what’s happening in those buildings – they are huge buildings,” Mr Spencer said.
Told people are furious after suffering a miserable Christmas under Covid restrictions, Mr Spencer replied: “And so did the Prime Minister, believe me, he also had a miserable Christmas dealing with all of this and dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, as many people did in No 10 working day and night trying to solve the challenges the country was facing.
“I’m told they were not drinking alcohol and having parties while that was going on.”
But Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson was being untruthful and added: “There were invites sent across Whitehall, it was an organised party.
“The trolley (referring to Mr Johnson) know this and tried to lie his way out but was fkd (sic) by the video.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the Prime Minister retains full confidence in adviser Ed Oldfield after he appeared in the leaked footage that prompted former press secretary Allegra Stratton to resign.
Downing Street said it has cancelled any plans to hold a Christmas party this year.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I think we’ve made clear since the latest situation with Omicron, obviously that’s taking up great deal of time at the moment.
“There’s no plans for that in No 10.”
Asked when the decision was taken, the spokesman said: “Following the decision on Plan B and the latest data that we’ve got.”
The Cabinet Secretary will investigate multiple allegedly rule-breaking events in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year.