Boris Johnson was accused on Saturday by a former attorney general of being an “integrity vacuum” as Tory donors expressed concerns over new accusations regarding the prime minister’s conduct.
The criticisms of Dominic Grieve, a former Conservative attorney general, follow a burning attack on Johnson by former Prime Minister Dominic Cummings, who accused him of being “well below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves”.
Grieve focused on Cummings’ claim that Johnson wanted donors to “secretly pay for the renovation” of his Number 10 apartment in Downing Street, with Labor now demanding to see all correspondence relating to the work.
The former attorney general said it was “just an illustration of the chaos Mr Johnson seems to be causing in his wake”.
Grieve, who was kicked out of the Conservative Party in 2019 by Johnson because of his Brexit views, told the BBC Today program that the Prime Minister was “a vacuum of integrity”.
Downing Street insists that all rules have been observed on the renovations, overseen by Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, and that “all reportable donations are reported and disclosed in a transparent manner.”
On Friday, the government said that “the costs of the larger renovation this year have been borne by the prime minister personally”.
The Labor Party has called for a full investigation. Steve Reed, secretary of Labor ghost communities, said: “We don’t know how much was spent or if a donor got anything in return.”
Cummings said in to the blog On Friday, he told Johnson that “his plans to secretly charge donors for the renovation were unethical, senseless, possibly illegal and almost certainly violated the rules on the proper disclosure of political donations.”
Cummings published the blog after claiming through Downing Street that he was responsible for a series of leaks. Johnson and the mastermind of his Brexit victory in 2016 and victory in the Conservative election of 2019 are now locked in a public impasse.
The Prime Minister has the most to lose if his former adviser continues to lay charges – supported by evidence via text or email – about what happened between Cummings’ arrival at Downing Street in July 2019 and his effective dismissal in November 2020.
Downing Street’s surprise decision on Friday to fight Cummings – identifying him as a suspected elusor – created an asymmetrical fight between a former adviser with plenty of secrets to tell and little to lose and the country’s top-ranking holder .
A senior party official said: “Boris cannot win this fight, so why did it start? They should have risen above and ignored Dom. Now we’re going to have weeks of “he said, she said”. ”
Another party backer warned: “It could get out of hand very quickly. We don’t need it as we enter crucial local elections ”. Downing Street tried to extinguish the conflict on Friday night, but the damage was already done.
Since Cummings left No.10 in November, Johnson has worried about what his former chief assistant might do. In recent weeks, private reconciliation efforts have been unsuccessful.
Ben Elliot, Conservative Party co-chair, has been appointed to speak to Cummings to negotiate peace and stem leaks of damaging revelations about Johnson and his Downing Street operation.
According to a Tory official familiar with the situation, Elliot’s efforts failed to convince the former aide. “Ben exchanged a whole series of texts with Dom trying to put him aside. Instead, he just threatened to blow everything up, ”the person said.
Two main dangers stand out. The first is that Cummings provides more details on whether Johnson is breaking political conventions or allegedly breaking the rules.
Johnson suspended Parliament in 2019 during the Brexit crisis – a decision overturned by the Supreme Court – and said he was ready to break international Brexit law in 2020.
His convincing election victory and the Tory Party’s big lead in the Labor Party opinion poll may suggest the public is not overly concerned. On Friday, he said the public did not “give a monkey” to who leaked government secrets.
The second danger is that Cummings, who will testify to MPs next month about the government’s handling of Covid, will lift the lid on Johnson’s allegedly weak leadership at the height of the crisis.
The leak of plans for a second nationwide lockdown last November was seen by some as an attempt to ensure Johnson – who tentatively agreed to the move on October 30 – does not change his mind.
Cummings insists he wasn’t the runaway, claiming it was Henry Newman, a Number 10 adviser and Michael Gove’s ally. Downing Street officials insisted Cummings was responsible for the leak.
Cummings and Newman both wanted the lockdown and the episode suggests someone was concerned Johnson was losing his temper. “He’s well known to have faltered before,” said a senior curator.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s Gulf Special Envoy Lord Udny-Lister is stepping down and leaving government, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement on Friday evening.
The departure of Udny-Lister, reported for the first time by the Daily Telegraph, follows a spate of revelations about the adviser’s ties to the private sector while working for the government.