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Having played an instrumental role in Theresa May's downfall - albeit by leaving much of the dirty work to fellow MPs - Boris Johnson knows only too well the dangers that lie ahead.
The public and private anger being voiced by MPs, from the newest backbenchers to senior Cabinet ministers, reflects both the personal feelings of the Prime Minister's colleagues and the onslaught many are experiencing from constituents.
At the centre of the anger are allegations of parties at Number 10 that appeared to breach Covid-19 rules, along with Mr Johnson's failure to grip the problem and get his Government back on track.
"The in-tray is hideous," said one MP who has previously seldom displayed any disloyalty towards Mr Johnson. "It is relentless and universally negative. And it's a bunch of upstanding, normal Tories."
Tobias Ellwood, another backbencher, said: "I've never had so many emails come in on one subject since I've been an MP.
“It's not the usual people. It is many party members saying: ‘I'm simply shocked by this.'"
A third MP, a government aide, said: "I spoke to someone who is a diehard, card-carrying, Right-wing Conservative. He was incandescent with anger and said: 'hat is wrong with you and your colleagues? Why have 365 letters not gone in?" referring to letters MPs can send to the 1922 Committee calling for a vote of no confidence in a prime minister.
Many other MPs were experiencing similar responses from constituents and party members at the weekend.
A minister, voicing sentiments now shared by many in government and the Commons, said: "All of this is completely self-inflicted so I don't understand why people think he is going to change."
The minister warned that the Prime Minister's position was "not absolutely fatal, but it is not far off".
"Whether it is fatal is down to a set of things that will happen in the next five days and which are largely out of his hands," the minister added.
Those factors include the findings of an inquiry being conducted by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant tasked with establishing the facts around the various parties said to have been held at No 10 since the start of the pandemic.
The report itself, some ministers believe, is a "red herring" and is unlikely to implicate the Prime Minister himself in serious wrongdoing.
Instead, there is concern both about the potential for more damaging leaks specifically targeting Mr Johnson, as well as the potential for the Prime Minister to botch his response to Ms Gray's report.
"It is how he responds, and he's not been very good at responding so far," said the minister, in a reference to Mr Johnson's previous denials of knowledge and a half-apology last week over a drinks party he attended in the Downing Street garden.
"He's a Houdini, so many are assuming he'll find another way out, but each time he gets himself in one of these scrapes he loses a bit more credibility and it becomes more difficult to get out."
If activists and MPs perceive that the Prime Minister is continuing on a path to self-destruction, Mr Johnson knows only too well that, at some point at least, they will act.
Dozens of ministers resigned from Mrs May's Government over her approach to Brexit, beginning with Lord Bridges in June 2017 and including David Davis, the then Brexit secretary, in July 2018 and Mr Johnson, then foreign secretary, the following day.
By April 2019, fearing that Mrs May had "betrayed" Tory grassroots and Leave voters, many activists were refusing to campaign for the party and donations began to dry up.
In the same month, dozens of Conservative associations signed a petition to trigger an unprecedented vote of no confidence in Mrs May's leadership. The prime minister announced her resignation before it could take place.
Amid concern about the Government's deployment of stringent Covid-19 restrictions and policies such as Mr Johnson's National Insurance rise, the council elections in May could be the tipping point.
"May is going to be a disaster," claimed one former Cabinet minister.
Lord Hayward, the Conservative polling guru, has warned that Mr Johnson is facing one of the worst local election results in London in more than 50 years, with the potential loss of Wandsworth and Westminster councils.
A senior Tory in local government warned that disillusionment with Mr Johnson would have an effect far beyond London, stating: "If we don’t sort this out then it will impact on the local elections and that will undermine how we will fight the general election.
"It will not be easy with Boris at the helm. I think Sue Gray will be quite damning and that will be the moment he should fall on his sword.
"If he doesn’t, we can kiss goodbye to hundreds of councillors."
A loyalist MP said: "Talk to the 2019 [intake of MPs] about the numbers at the May elections. If they look at the figures and extrapolate to their own positions, he will be toast."
One Conservative association chairman said: “I think partygate is quite unhelpful, that's what a lot of members, particularly our association, feel.
“It's just starting to erode any trust that people have got in the Government, and I say that as someone who quite likes Boris.
“It's getting harder and harder to explain to people why we have to go through lockdowns and restrictions when people at the top aren’t obeying the rules - it’s a real slap in the face.”
He said, however, that Mr Johnson should continue until after the local elections, when the party could assess the impact of the parties on the results.
Nick Adams-King, the chairman of Romsey and Southampton North Conservatives - whose MP, Caroline Noakes, called for Mr Johnson to quit last week - said that her statement “reflects pretty accurately the feeling of our membership”.
“What appeared to be an apology [by Mr Johnson] wasn't," said Mr Adams-King. "It was, you know, ‘sorry, not sorry’, kind of thing.
“When you've got to a point where people are mocking you over the stance that you're taking, that's really a bad place to be."
A third association chairman said: “In some respects, I find it very aggravating that people are exaggerating the knees-up and parties and all things like that, when it was people who were working very hard in their office, who had an outdoor space, and probably good for their mental health that they got outside occasionally. That said, doing a thing that says 'bring your own booze' is just ridiculous."
There is a growing consensus among MPs and ministers that Mr Johnson's No 10 team requires an overhaul.
Last month, Nikki da Costa, a highly regarded former director of legislative affairs under Mr Johnson and Theresa May told The Telegraph that the "whole system" in No 10 "doesn't work", with "no weight given to advance sight".
She called for Dan Rosenfield, Mr Johnson's chief of staff, to be replaced, in a move that is privately backed by a growing number of Conservative MPs and some Cabinet ministers.
In one extraordinary intervention last week, Danny Kruger - Mr Johnson's former political secretary, who is now MP for Devizes and a ministerial aide - warned that many people "have decided they cannot vote for us again while Boris Johnson is leader".
He added: "To win them back, and to fulfil our duty to everyone in the country including those who didn’t vote for us, we need good leadership,” highlighting the need for a chief of staff "who will grip the operation in No 10".
Mr Ellwood agreed, saying: "You need a new chief of staff, there's no doubt about it." The former defence minister said he even feared that Vladimir Putin may be emboldened by Mr Johnson's political misfortunes, in the Russian president's designs on Ukraine.
"A simple glance at the domestic headlines would tell Putin that Britain is not a voice to worry about," he said.
On Saturday Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and a supporter of Mr Johnson, told The Times: "If there were people in Downing Street prior to the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral partying, well they're prats and need to be sacked.”
Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons culture select committee, said he was "very open minded" about the possibility of Mr Johnson being removed from office, following "extreme stupidity" by people in No 10.
Writing in The Telegraph, Chris Loder - who was elected as MP for West Dorset in 2019 - said: "This is now becoming a matter where the integrity of all of Westminster is being questioned, as well as that of the Downing Street party animals.
“I am clear that the apology made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons last week was not enough."
Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, has said emails from constituents had been “red hot with anger” over the issue, while Gary Sandbrook, an executive secretary of the 1922 Committee and one of the 2019 Red Wall MPs, said: "I would expect anyone who is found to have broken the law to seriously consider their position in government, and that includes the Prime Minister."
Tories await outcome of Sue Gray's inquiry
The refrain by many Tories that they will wait for Ms Gray's findings before coming to their own conclusions is in some cases a smokescreen for those who have decided that it is a case of when, not if, the Prime Minister has to step down.
Some still hold out hope that Mr Johnson can carry out the changes necessary to "reset" the Government and reverse a decline in the polls. They point to the Prime Minister's success overseeing the mass roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as his policies to "level up" the country.
Elliott Weaver, the chairman of the Bethnal Green and Bow Conservative Association, said: "If the Prime Minister wants to stay in post, he needs radically to shift gear so that we are showing the country the benefits of governing with actual progressive Conservative policies and values.
"The past two years has shown that Boris ... doesn’t have a good set of advisors and experts around [him] to make the best decisions. Boris needs to act on this within days ... otherwise the party will need a new leader to grapple with these new challenges."
A reset "might work if they get a few lucky breaks in Sue Gray's report", one MP said of the current No 10 operation.
"They will need to make some big commitments on freedoms from Covid restrictions, and the Levelling Up white paper needs to be bold." But the Prime Minister will "need to do something with people" - specifically carrying out a reshuffle of his top team.
Senior officials believe that Ms Gray's report could, at least, lead to Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson's private secretary, being moved out of No 10. It follows anger over the leaked email in which he invited Downing Street staff to "socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden" to "make the most of the lovely weather" on May 20 2020, despite stringent Covid-19 measures in place at the time.
But many MPs insist Mr Johnson must go further, including by replacing Mr Rosenfield. The loyalist backbencher said: "If he had the right people around him and made ministerial appointments on merit, he could be a great Prime Minister."
Others are sceptical about the prospect of a successful reset. "It's all over," said a government aide. "If you've got a PM who is incapable of making decisions ... you can't operate."
Meanwhile, those hoping to succeed Mr Johnson are beginning to make overtures to potential supporters among MPs and party donors. One donor said: "Four separate ministers contacted me on their own initiative last week to say 'let's get together'".
The former Cabinet minister said that many current members of the Government want Mr Johnson "gone but are terrified of doing the deed" - such as resigning, as Mr Johnson did in 2018.
But the current minister said: "Ultimately we [may] get to a point where the risk of moving is smaller than the risk of staying."