Fresh claims of chaotic lockdown parties and all-night drinking at No 10 have emerged as Boris Johnson braces himself for the publication of the potentially explosive Sue Gray report expected later today.
Former staffers described “wine-time Fridays” where bins would overflow with empty bottles.
And a Savanta poll for the Independent found that two-thirds (66pc) of voters believe the British prime minister should resign if he is heavily criticised.
In findings that will trouble anxious Conservative MPs, more than a quarter (26pc) of those who backed the Tories in 2019 said they were less likely to do so again if Mr Johnson remains leader.
One Tory critic of Mr Johnson said it was “urgent” that MPs submit letters of no confidence, while another said it was clear Mr Johnson was now an “electoral liability”.
A series of No 10 insiders told BBC’s Panorama that they felt the gatherings were condoned by Mr Johnson, as he was “grabbing a glass for himself”. They said Downing Street would be left a “mess” after the events, with some revellers staying overnight.
It came after a leaked photograph showed Mr Johnson raising a glass at a leaving do for former spin doctor Lee Cain eight days after the implementation of England’s second lockdown.
Amid growing backbench concern about the impact of “partygate”, one senior MP told The Independent: “The whole thing is rotten. He’s got to go.”
In an interim report released in January, the senior civil servant blasted “failures of leadership” at No 10 and said some of the behaviour described was “difficult to justify”.
It is expected that the report will be published within hours of being handed over to Mr Johnson, who will then make a statement to MPs before facing Conservative backbenchers in a meeting of the 1922 Committee which could be crucial to deciding his fate.
Committee chair Graham Brady must call a vote on the leadership if he receives 54 no-confidence letters from MPs, with Mr Johnson then needing a majority of MPs’ votes to survive.
Rumours circulating in Westminster yesterday suggested that Mr Brady may have received as many as 40 letters.
Meanwhile, Labour’s lead over the Tories remained at six points, with Keir Starmer’s party on 40pc unchanged since a similar poll in April. (© Independent News Service)