Boris Johnson to BAN staff from Downing Street's gardens

Now PM bans staff from using the Downing Street garden: Boris rules only the Johnsons, Sunaks and their pet dogs can enjoy No10’s lawns as cops probe Partygate

  • Boris Johnson tells staff that they are banned from No 10’s manicured lawns 
  • Met Police sent the Prime Minister the ‘Partygate’ questionnaire form on Friday 
  • Mr Johnson will have to provide credible reason why he was at No 10 parties

Boris Johnson has banned impromptu socialising in the Downing Street garden as he plans how to survive the police investigation into Partygate.

The Prime Minister has imposed a ‘residents only’ order on the use of No 10’s outside space. 

It means only he and his wife, Carrie, along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata – and the two couples’ children and dogs – will be allowed access to the garden without prior approval.

It comes as No 10 confirmed that the Prime Minister had been sent a legal questionnaire by police investigating allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street. 

These include a ‘bring your own booze’ drinks party in the No 10 garden on May 20 2020, when gatherings were banned in England.

A source said: ‘The order has gone out that it is for use by principals only – those who live there. 

‘No longer will the garden be used as a sort of social spillover party venue. But it’s a bit annoying because even smokers won’t be allowed to use it.’ 

Boris Johnson has banned impromptu socialising in the Downing Street garden as he plans how to survive the police investigation into Partygate

The Prime Minister has imposed a ‘residents only’ order on the use of No 10’s outside space. Pictured: Mr Johnson and dozens of Downing Street staff were seen in the gardens of No 10 during lockdown in May 2020

With the Commons in recess for the next week, the Prime Minister is spending the coming days considering how to survive a vote of no confidence if the threshold of 54 letters to the 1922 Committee is reached. 

Many Tories think this will happen after the police publish their report, which is expected to be early in March.

Mr Johnson’s strategy centres on the neutralisation of rebels through the offer of jobs or the return of the party whip in exchange for promises of loyalty in a vote.

The plotting against the Prime Minister has led to ‘blue on blue’ feuding on Red Wall WhatsApp messaging sites, with Johnson loyalists – such as Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis – dismissed as No 10 ‘stooges’ by colleagues.

In one message that aroused their ire, Mr Gullis said that in his constituency nobody had raised Partygate, lobbying him instead over the cost of living and Ukraine. 

He added: ‘People don’t thank politicians playing games in Westminster when there are real issues that affect their everyday life that are more important’.

When The Mail on Sunday visited Mr Gullis’s constituency, many of his voters agreed. Melissa Perrin, 35, said of the Partygate allegations: ‘They’re annoying but they’re not at the top of my mind. I’d rather just concentrate on what’s going on…. Everything’s just a mess at the moment. In Westminster, they don’t have to worry about living pay cheque to pay cheque’.

In the former market town of Tunstall, just north of Stoke, one local said: ‘It’s like Beirut here, have you seen the state of the high street?’

Once boasting a bustling parade of shops, more than half of all the units on Tunstall High Street are now permanently closed or derelict.

Since its creation in 1950, the constituency of Stoke on Trent North had always been a Labour stronghold. In 2019, on a tide of support for Mr Johnson’s push to ‘get Brexit done’, Gullis became the first Conservative to be elected from the area.

One local told the MoS: ‘Boris has been given a raw deal, he’s no different to anyone else, he’s had his friends round for a drink.

‘Just leave him alone, let him have a go. And if he’s crap at it, that’s fine, but he hasn’t had a chance yet.’ 

It has led to the creation of what anti-Johnson MPs describe as ‘non-jobs’, such as last week’s appointment of Brendan Clarke-Smith, a Red Wall critic of the Prime Minister, as principal private secretary (PPS) to Nigel Adams, the Minister Without Portfolio (MWP).

‘They have never needed a PPS to a MWP before and they don’t need one now, but it means one letter fewer going in,’ said a source.

Looking at options for what is increasingly seen as an inevitable confidence vote, Mr Johnson’s allies have been discussing the possibility of restoring the Tory whip to a number of MPs to bolster the Prime Minister’s ally numbers.

This follows lobbying from MPs who have lost the party whip – including Rob Roberts, Anne Marie Morris and Imran Ahmad Khan – to be brought back on to the Conservative benches, sources said.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Roberts texted Mark Spencer, who until last week was chief whip, asking to have the whip restored so he can back the Prime Minister in a confidence vote. 

Mr Roberts lost the whip and was temporarily suspended from the Commons over sexual misconduct.

A source said: ‘Rob will use every lever he can to try and get the whip back. 

‘He does not have any humility or feel he has done anything wrong.’ 

But the source added: ‘I can’t see a way back for him.’ 

Mr Roberts confirmed he had contacted Mr Spencer last month asking for a meeting about restoring the whip but denied promising to back the Prime Minister in a confidence vote in return.

However, he told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘I have heard talk around the place that, often when there is a confidence vote, people who have had the whip withdrawn may get it restored.’

The MP for Delyn explained that this had been mentioned to him by MPs in the Commons tea room and the Lobby.

Asked if he would back Mr Johnson as Prime Minister if a confidence vote were held today, Mr Roberts said: ‘He has delivered a huge amount and continues to deliver, and I think it’s important to focus on those types of things that he does deliver for the country.’

Mr Khan is awaiting trial for sexual assault in the spring and sits as an independent after losing the Tory whip.

The Wakefield MP denies the allegations.

A source said: ‘The argument is that he has not been convicted and is innocent until proven guilty so he can get the whip back. However, it may look distasteful.’

A proponent of restoring the whip to MPs before a confidence vote, which is made anonymously, said: ‘We need to have every last person. If we give them this favour, they will be loyal.’

A similar move was made under Theresa May when Charlie Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths were given the Tory whip before a vote of confidence in her leadership.

Both MPs had faced claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Scotland Yard is reassessing its decision not to probe a quiz night at Christmas 2020 where he was pictured with an aide dressed in tinsel, with sparking wine on the table in front of them

Ms Morris, MP for Newton Abbot, lost the whip in January after rebelling against the Government. 

Sources said she has been arguing to be let back into the party, although two said it was unlikely as they would not be able to guarantee her support for Mr Johnson in a confidence vote.

A Downing Street source insisted last night there were no plans to restore the whip to the three MPs.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s allies suggested Mr Johnson could fight any police fine in court.

One said: ‘If he gets a fine his current plan will be to contest it in court.

‘He genuinely feels he’s innocent. He’s been telling his team: “I know you think I should apologise. But I haven’t done anything wrong”.’

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