Why Nadhim Zahawi has backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson over partygate

Boris Johnson: MP's 'calculating his recovery' says Portillo

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The “partygate” controversy has persisted for more than a month, with continued revelations further damaging the Prime Minister’s position. Each one punctures a hole in the Government’s authority, and undermines the apology Mr Johnson delivered in the House of Commons last week. The PM’s cabinet is out in full force to defend him as he draws perilously close to a no-confidence vote.

Mr Zahawi, the education secretary, was the minister undertaking media rounds this morning.

He defended the Prime Minister in appearances on morning shows, among them BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Speaking on the show, he told listeners the Prime Minister had come “to the dispatch box and apologised”.

He added Mr Johnson would “absolutely submit himself to Parliament”, and declared his confidence in the PM’s position.

Mr Zahawi told listeners he was “human” and “we make mistakes” while fielding rumours.

He is one of several cabinet ministers batting for Mr Johnson as he takes increased fire.

Last week, culture secretary Nadine Dorries was one of the first to offer her support.

After his apology, she wrote on Twitter that he was “right to fully apologise”, adding people should wait for the enquiry into the parties to conclude.

A few days later, a screenshot of a WhatsApp group showed Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for Tory MPs to “back Boris”.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, chancellor Rishi Sunak, levelling up secretary Michael Gove and leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg have since joined her.

They are a buffer between Mr Johnson and mounting calls for his resignation.

Every opposition party in the House of Commons, aside from the DUP, has called for him to resign.

And a growing number of Conservative MPs have joined him.

So far, six have called for Mr Johnson to resign, high-profile members such as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and ERG member Andrew Bridgen among them.

More are declaring their distrust in the Government under the radar and handing letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee.

If the committee of Tory grandees receives 54 letters, they could trigger a vote of no confidence that pushes Mr Johnson out before he can resign.

According to the Sunday Times, 35 MPs have submitted a letter as of January 16.

The total is up by 15 from the end of last week when reports suggested 20 had provided a letter.

Should the letters fall short of the required number, the Prime Minister still has to fight the vote’s Parliamentary equivalent.

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, which would allow MPs to oust the Prime Minister and the Conservative party.

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