Boris Johnson would lose Uxbridge by-election, says Tory pollster

Boris Johnson would lose Uxbridge by-election, says Tory pollster

Boris Johnson’s attempt at a political comeback is “finished”, according to senior Tory Caroline Nokes after his torrid grilling by MPs at the televised Partygate inquiry hearing.

And a Tory polling guru said the former prime minister would lose his Uxbridge and Ruislip seat if he is punished severely by the cross-party committee and forced to face a by-election in the months ahead.

Lord Hayward told The Independent: “Although the position for the Conservatives is improving, under current circumstances the Tories would lose a by-election in Uxbridge. There’s no question the party would face defeat to Labour.”

The Tory polling expert said it was “difficult to judge” whether Mr Johnson’s own appeal could defy the grim national polling for the Tories. “If the Lib Dems choose to compete hard against Labour, it might just make it possible it could be saved,” he said.

The former prime minister is struggling to revive his political career after the cross-party committee investigating his Partygate denials denounced the “flimsy” assurances they were based on.

Ms Nokes said Mr Johnson’s unlikely comeback hopes were “finished”, as the committee suggested he had failed to correctly interpret his own Covid guidance or seek proper advice.

Asked if Mr Johnson is finished in the event he is punished by the privileges committee for misleading the Commons, Ms Nokes told ITV’s Peston: “I think that Boris Johnson is finished anyway.”

“I think there was a very clear message from his own ministers back in the summer that they didn’t want him to carry on,” said the chair of the women and equalities committee. “As far as I’m concerned, Boris Johnson is not coming back as prime minister.”

In a short-tempered testimony lasting more than three hours, Mr Johnson insisted there was not a “shred of evidence” to show he lied to MPs and said it would have been “utterly insane” for him to have done so.

But senior Tory Sir Bernard Jenkin questioned why Mr Johnson failed to take “proper advice” on Covid guidance before claiming in parliament it had been followed “completely”.

And it emerged the then PM had been warned against making his infamous remarks in the Commons by his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds.

Johnson leaves his London home on the day after the Partygate hearing


If a suspension of at least 10 days is voted through by MPs, a by-election in Mr Johnson’s seat could be triggered. But many Tory MPs believe the committee may stop short of a 10-day suspension – even though they expect him to be found guilty of “recklessly” misleading the Commons.

Jacob Rees-Mogg – one of the few voices in a dwindling band of MPs still loyal to Mr Johnson – claimed his old boss had “won” public support with his defences – despite them being met with exasperation by the cross-party panel.

The senior Tory MP told Channel 4 News: “Boris Johnson today has won in the court of public opinion.”

Boris Johnson ‘won in court of public opinion’, claims Jacob Rees-Mogg

He added: “I think that if Boris Johnson went to a by-election he would win it comfortably. Because I think he’s winning in the court of public opinion, who see this as a kangaroo court.”

The former Brexit minister said the Johnson evidence was “very convincing” and claimed it was “perfectly reasonable” for the former PM to think No 10 leaving dos were in the remit of Covid regulations.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s remarkable claim about the “court of public opinion” comes as the latest YouGov poll shows 72 per cent of the public thinks Mr Johnson is dishonest (while only 13 per cent believe he is honest).

Boris Johnson endured a torrid time at the Partygate hearing on Wednesday


Mr Johnson also indicated he may refuse to accept the inquiry’s verdict if it finds him guilty of contempt of parliament by deliberately misleading the Commons – saying he would “wait to see”.

The remark was echoed by Conservative chair Greg Hands when asked if the committee was being fair to Mr Johnson. “We’ll have to wait and see,” he told Peston. “I think it’s impossible to judge that until we see the report.”

Offering his verdict on Wednesday’s hearing, Will Walden, Mr Johnson’s former communication chief, said: “He’ll be wanting to tell himself it’s all alright – but I don’t think it is, really. It was a bit of mess. He was churlish, frustrated, disbelieving, stroppy, shameless.”

Mr Walden added: “A man with an elastic relationship with the truth, swearing on a Bible to tell the truth about whether in the past he told the truth or not – I mean you literally couldn’t make it up.”

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who recused himself from leading the inquiry, said: “I got the impression [Mr Johnson] knows perfectly well the rules weren’t followed.”

“He’s always known the rules weren’t perfectly followed – and he’s always sort of tried to cover it up … his mind is very, very muddled. I think he knows deep in his heart he’s got this wrong from the very beginning but he can’t own up to it.”

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