When MPs are restive and the political temperature is rising in Westminster, there is nothing that No 10 and the whips office look forward to more than when the weekend comes around and their rebellious backbenchers disperse to their constituencies to cool down.
But this time around, MPs have returned to parliament in foul moods, having spent the weekend canvassing constituents over partygate.
They tell me they’ve been met with a wall of anger, irritation and even rage at Boris Johnson on the doorstep, which has in turn soured their own moods and made them question for how long the prime minister can carry on.
And on Monday night the accusation by Dominic Cummings, and backed up by a second source to me, that the PM was warned against holding the 20 May drinks event in the Downing Street garden, but carried on regardless, flies in the face of what he told parliament last week: that he didn’t know that the garden party organised by Martin Reynolds was anything more than a “work event”.
These allegations are backed up by journalist Dominic Lawson, who wrote in the Sunday Times that a former Downing Street official told him at least two people had told the PM it was “a party” and should be cancelled.
No 10 have denied the allegations, saying that this is all “untrue”.
But the latest iteration of the partygate scandal will no doubt further rattle already furious MPs.
Andrew Bridgen, who last week announced he’d submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM, told Sky News on Monday night that if Sue Gray uncovers evidence that the PM was warned in advance, he’s lied to parliament and has no option but to resign.
Mr Bridgen told me he’d received over 1,000 emails on the PM over recent days, with the vast majority calling for him to go.
He also believes a number of colleagues have letters ready – and are waiting on the Gray report to decide.
As for the mood as parliament returned on Monday, every single MP I spoke to – Johnson backers as well as foes – said they’d had a torrid weekend in their constituencies, and their inboxes were filling up with angry emails.
“My constituents are at the moment about 60 to 1 against the prime minister,” said Wycombe MP Steve Baker on Monday.
Andrew Bowie, the former parliamentary aide to former prime minister Theresa May, told me he’d had “hundreds” of emails from angry constituents in recent days, and the public response was “worrying”.
“[No 10] needs to know the level of anger in the country,” he said. “Something needs to change.”
But perhaps the most concerning conversation I had on Monday was with the new MP for Bolton North East Mark Logan, who has a majority of just 378.
Acknowledging the role Mr Johnson played in helping win that seat off Labour in 2019, he also raised doubts about whether the PM’s position was now recoverable.
“He has a lot of convincing to do, because I, and my constituents are unconvinced at the moment,” he told me, while stopping short of asking the PM to stand aside.
“If you can’t turn things around with the constituents and you know, the British people don’t give you a chance then you have to, at that point, reconsider.”
But with another serious set of allegations emerging tonight, the stakes are raised once more.
Allies of the prime minister were last week of the view that the Gray report would not find that Mr Johnson either authorised or organised any questionable events in No 10. That a sliver of an escape hatch for this seemingly cornered PM.
But now serious allegations have emerged contradicting the PM’s versions of events and what he knew and when.
Allegations Ms Gray will surely have to investigate – and that could well determine his fate.
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