No. 10

Who would join Boris’s No. 10?

Munira Mirza’s resignation over Boris Johnson’s refusal to withdraw his Savile barb at Keir Starmer led to Downing Street bringing forward the departure of various senior staff. Johnson’s shadow whipping operation were keen to emphasise that these were the very changes to his operation that he had promised Tory MPs on Monday night. Leaving aside the fact that these departures looked rather chaotic, the real challenge will come with whether Johnson can persuade anyone to come into Downing Street. As I say in the Times today, the failure to get Lynton Crosby to take on a formal role shows how difficult it will be to get the kind of big hitters

It’s getting worse for Boris

Talking to Tory MPs this morning, it is clear that the mood today is even worse than yesterday. Even one of those MPs closest to Boris Johnson thinks that it is now 50/50 whether enough letters go in to force a no confidence vote. Ironically, the improving Covid numbers are changing the calculus for some Tory MPs about a contest. A few weeks ago, even the most ardent Boris critics didn’t think you could have a no confidence vote, given the situation with the soaring Omicron variant. But now it is somewhat in retreat, and that restrictions are likely to go on 26 January giving hostile MPs the chance to do so. PMQs today

‘I’m plagued by worries of disaster’: Dominic Cummings interviewed

I’ve been waiting over a year to meet Dominic Cummings. Any time Mary Wakefield asked me to interview someone for The Spectator, I said: ‘I’d rather interview your husband.’ And she promised he would do it, one day. I began to lose faith, but at last the day dawns. On the way to see him I run into Mary and their son Ceddy outside their home in north London and she takes me to the kitchen to meet Dom. He is friendly, hospitable, takes me to sit in the garden to talk, and gently shoos Ceddy indoors. The one thing everyone, friend and enemy alike, agrees about Dominic Cummings is

Warning for No. 10 as Tory MPs re-elect Graham Brady

Graham Brady has been re-elected as chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. Brady, who has been chair since 2010, saw off a strong challenge from the former minister and whip Heather Wheeler. Brady’s victory is a sign of the mood on the Tory backbenches. Wheeler’s supporters argued that Brady had been too public in his criticisms of the government’s approach to lockdown. That Brady won despite having voted against the government multiple times is a sign that Tory MPs are not in a particularly deferential mood towards No. 10 and that they want someone independent-minded to represent them. Several MPs told me they were voting for Brady because