Boris Johnson allies blast Liz Truss as war of words erupts: ‘Reeks of desperation’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been interviewed as part of the investigation into allegations of parties at Downing Street. Reports claim Mr Johnson has “shared what he knows” about alleged parties in Downing Street during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. Senior civil servant Sue Gray is heading up the investigation, and is preparing to publish a report on the allegations. According to the Institute for Government, Ms Gray‘s final document is “set to be a largely factual account about parties that were held in Downing Street”.

Prime Minister Johnson is under immense pressure, with some Tory MPs having already turned against him and branding his position “untenable”.

As Mr Johnson’s popularity sinks, various reports and commentators have named Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss as potential successors.

Ms Truss in particular has caught the eye of commentators for an apparent leadership push, having been pictured in a tank in November, creating an image reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher in 1986.

But allies of the Prime Minister have criticised Ms Truss’ recent jockeying.

Sources spoke to The Times last month, briefing against the Foreign Secretary after disagreements over COVID-19 curbs in Government.

A Government source said: “What industries is she trying to protect? It smells like she’s trying to heavily position herself as a Conservative libertarian … It reeks of desperation and it’s all a bit pathetic.”

Reports today also suggest there is tension between Ms Truss and her likely leadership rival Mr Sunak.

The Daily Mail reported that a briefing war has started as Mr Sunak’s allies claimed he would “wipe the floor” with Ms Truss.

A pro-Sunak source branded Ms Truss’ allies “headbangers”.

They said: “When you’ve got Therese Coffey and Andrea Leadsom as your main backers, you’ve got a problem.

They added: “When Rishi gets out there and the media gets hold of Rishi vs Liz Truss, he is going to wipe the floor with her. He is so much better.”

The Sunak ally insisted the Chancellor, 41, was not running a leadership campaign, saying that to do anything “organised” now with Mr Johnson still in Number 10 would be “curtains”.

They continued: “That’s Truss’s problem – she’s too eager.”

A source close to Therese Coffey responded: “This is nonsense – there is no campaign. Liz and Therese are 100 percent behind the [Prime Minister].”

The ‘partygate’ furore isn’t just causing division for the Conservatives in Westminster.

Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie demanded that Jacob Rees-Mogg apologise for his comments about Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

After Mr Ross said the Prime Minister should resign, Mr Rees-Mogg branded the Scottish Tory leader a “lightweight” figure.

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Responding to the comments, Mr Bowie told Politics Live: “He is by no way a lightweight and I think Jacob should apologise for those comments. I think they were misjudged, and I do wonder if he regrets making those comments now.”

Asked about Mr Rees-Mogg’s swipe, Mr Ross said: “Jacob Rees-Mogg, as anyone, is entitled to their opinions. I don’t have to agree with them.”

Speaking before entering Holyrood’s debating chamber for First Minister’s Questions, Mr Ross added: “My message is I’m going to hold the First Minister to account and ensure that Scottish Conservatives continue to provide a real alternative here in Scotland.”

In a dig at Mr Rees-Mogg, who was infamously photographed laid out horizontally on the House of Commons benches, Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Greene told him to “have a long lie down”.

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