There was a time in mid-January when Boris Johnson would have been fearing for his political career. Letters of no confidence were flooding in to the 1922 Committee of back-bench Conservative MPs and many commentators wondered if reports of a string of parties across Whitehall while the country was in lockdown would mean the end.
Downing Street has now confirmed the prime minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak — who was not so long ago tipped as the next PM — have been fined for attending the parties and breaking the law. They are the first prime minister and chancellor pairing to be charged with committing a crime while in office.
Johnson and Sunak had both rejected accusations levied by MPs that they broke their own laws, telling the Commons on different occasions that there were no parties, that they had no knowledge of them, that guidelines were followed or that they were work events.
But those most vocal in calling for Johnson’s head just months ago have changed their tune.
Dozens of MPs and commentators are outraged and are calling on the prime minister to resign. But what happened to the Tory rebels? And why have they changed their tune? Here’s what they’re saying now.
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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross wrote to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs calling for a leadership contest after saying Mr Johnson’s position was untenable.