Tory anger explodes as MPs launch furious attacks on each other – leaked WhatsApp message

Boris Johnson: Lindsay Hoyle discusses sleaze debate

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Backbenchers furious at Boris Johnson handling of the “Tory sleaze” row lashed out at their colleagues in the Commons. Meanwhile, in leaked WhatsApp messages, some ministers have in turn lashed out at their non-Governmental colleagues.

Tempers are fraying as MPs fear the fallout of the rows engulfing the party are cutting through with the public.

Last week Conservative MPs were ordered to vote for parliamentary rule changes that might have saved former environment secretary Owen Paterson from a Commons suspension, only for ministers to U-turn in the face of public anger 24 hours later.

There is also renewed pressure over whether Boris Johnson’s holidays in villas provided by friends were properly declared, and how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was funded.

Senior backbencher Tobias Ellwood attacked the Prime Minister in a newspaper article, warning: “A PM who takes the Mother of Parliaments for granted will achieve nothing.”

Sharing his comment piece in the Tory “One Nation” WhatsApp chat group yesterday, a minister attacked the Bournemouth East MP for being “self-centred” and “unhelpful”.

According to the politics website Guido Fawkes, they added: “We definitely owe the PM our majority.

“So please keep your opinions to yourself/or private discussions… rather than choosing to have a pop at all Conservative colleagues.”

In another damning blue-on-blue attack, former chief whip Mark Harper took aim at Mr Johnson in the Commons.

The Cinderford MP criticised his party leader for his failure to attend the Commons debate on standards in public life.

Accusing him of failing to act like a leader, he said: “If the team captain gets it wrong, then I think he should come and apologise to the public and to this House, that’s the right thing to do in terms of demonstrating leadership.”

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Aaron Bell also criticised the Government for forcing MPs to vote for a change in parliamentary disciplinary rules last week.

The MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, who rebelled against the whip in Wednesday’s vote, said many of his colleagues who were elected during Mr Johnson’s landslide victory “wished they had chosen to vote differently and are beating themselves up”.

He told the Commons: “The reality is that my friends should not have been put in such an invidious position.”

Mr Johnson was unable to attend the standards debate because he had a long-standing commitment in Northumberland, according to No10.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the debate, the Prime Minister said he supported MPs being held to account for their standards.

He said: “We are going to hold MPs to account.

“MPs should not break the rules.

“If there is anything positive to come out of the whole thing it is that as far as I can make out the Speaker is determined to try to move us all forward with a system whereby we have a cross-party approach, which is what we were trying to achieve last week.”

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