Boris Johnson has a “huge role to play” in the future of the Conservative Party, according to one cabinet minister, while a staunch ally of the ex-prime minister urged “the left” to leave him alone.
The Conservative MPs were speaking following last week’s revelation that Mr Johnson’s diaries from when he was in Number 10 have been passed to the police by the government due to concerns about further breaches of lockdown rules.
Mr Johnson paid a fixed penalty notice last year after the police determined he had broken his own COVID laws.
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Lawyers defending the government at the official COVID inquiry recently examined Mr Johnson’s itinerary from the time, and were later referred to law enforcement, with reports his meetings showed people visiting Chequers while restrictions were in place.
Mr Johnson described the claims he broke the rules as “nonsense” when speaking to Sky News.
Asked if Mr Johnson’s time as a politician was over, Health Secretary Steve Barclay told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “No, I think Boris has a huge role to play.”
He cited the former prime minister’s leadership on Ukraine and the COVID vaccine rollout as examples of his good qualities.
Mr Barclay added that he “of course” wants to see Boris Johnson return as a member of parliament after the next election, as with all his Conservative colleagues.
Andrea Jenkyns, who was seen wiping away tears when Mr Johnson resigned from Downing Street, defended him on the same programme.
“There’s a real hatred from the left of Boris Johnson, which I haven’t seen since Thatcher’s funeral, to be honest,” she said.
The MP accused Mr Johnson’s opponents of an “orchestrated” effort to topple him as prime minister.
Ms Jenkyns also sought to blame the Civil Service, saying “more transparency” is needed from civil servants – calling for them to publish a register of interests and “relations with not only the media, but the shadow cabinet as well“.
She said people should “leave Boris alone now” – pointing out that his wife, Carrie, is “heavily pregnant“.
Ms Jenkyns also defended a message she sent to Conservative colleagues in which she called for less “sanctimony and hypocrisy” – adding that “those at the top are not doing anything about this to bring people together”.
She told Sky News she was talking about people like Simon Hoare, who she said was “quite vitriolic” when Theresa May was prime minister.
Ms Jenkyns revealed that at one point she blocked messages from the current chief whip, Simon Hart, due to his actions.
But she added she does not want a change in leadership, despite criticising Rishi Sunak.
She thinks it would harm the chances of the Conservatives winning the next general election – scheduled for next year.
This comes despite her tweeting the hashtag “BBBJ” – bring back Boris Johnson – last week.
‘Whole system not fit for purpose’
Sir Chris Bryant, a Labour MP who is also chair of a Commons standards committee, called for a rethink of how MPs and ministers are investigated for their conduct.
The Commons privileges committee is currently investigating whether Mr Johnson deliberately misled MPs about partygate.
Sir Chris has recused himself from the probe, as he believes the former prime minister is guilty.
His concerns come following Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he would not launch an investigation into Suella Braverman for the way she handled a speeding ticket.
Sir Chris said: “My worry is that we have so many organisations and so many different rules that it’s actually very difficult for the public – and for that matter politicians – to understand who’s who, who governs, who regulates what particular bit of the ministerial code, the civil service code.
“And I think all of this is ripe for reform – the whole system is simply not fit for purpose anymore.”