Boris Johnson set to lose support from backbench MPs ‘Don’t want to do this again!’

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Boris Johnson has been urged by a senior Tory MP to apologise for his handling of the sleaze row that has engulfed his party in the wake of Owen Paterson being reprimanded. With backbench Conservatives still smarting after the Government performed a standards reform U-turn last week, former chief whip Mark Harper said the Prime Minister should say sorry to both the public and MPs. GB News presenter Darren McCaffrey said backbench MPs could have the most “crucial impact”.

He said: “The Government have clearly been rattled. There’s been big questions about Downing Street’s political intent.

“There are two agruments here. First of all, the public and I think we’ve seen a slight change in the polls.

“We’ve got by elections coming up which could be a real political barometer.

“Is it a game changer? I’m not entirely sure that it is at the moment.

“Also I think what is more concerning for Downing Street is the impact it’s had on Conservative MPs who have had to time and time again defend a decision by the Government and 24 hours later, they’ve got custard pie on their face.

“At some point those MPs are going to think, I’m not prepared to do this again becuase they’re also getting a lot of stick from their constituents for doing this.

“I think that breakdown between No10 and its backbenchers could have the most crucial impact.”

It comes after Tory MPs were ordered on Wednesday to vote for a new committee to consider an altered system of appeals after former environment secretary Mr Paterson was sanctioned, only for ministers to backtrack after the opposition parties refused to co-operate.

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At the start of a three-hour emergency Commons debate following the row over the treatment of Mr Paterson, Mr Harper said backbenchers deserved “decisions that are well thought through and soundly based”.

He said: “If on occasion, as on this occasion… 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.”

Before the debate, Mr Johnson refused to apologise when asked repeatedly by broadcasters during a visit to Northumberland on Monday whether he would do so, arguing that there were “long-standing concerns amongst MPs” about the way standards probes were handled.

Several Tories from the 2019 intake joined in speaking out about the sleaze row during the Commons debate, with one MP admitting they had endured a “miserable time” since last week’s vote.

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Aaron Bell, the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme who rebelled to oppose the amendment on Wednesday, 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 MPs: “The reality is that my friends should not have been put in such an invidious position.”

In the bitter aftermath of the row, Mr Paterson announced he was quitting as an MP after 24 years, blaming the “cruel world of politics”.

It followed a recommendation by the Commons Standards Committee that he should be suspended from Parliament for six weeks after committing an “egregious” breach of the centuries-old ban on paid lobbying by MPs.

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