Andrew Neil forecasts Tory 'summer leadership contest'
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Boris Johnson will be analysed by the veteran reporter and commentator in an hour-long documentary for Channel 4. The investigation into Mr Johnson’s premiership, entitled ‘Boris Johnson: Has He Run Out of Road?, will be broadcast on January 30 at 7pm.
In the extended piece, Mr Neil will be “on the inside track of Conservative Party turmoil”, using his “unique access to Conservative MPs to take us inside the biggest leadership in crisis the country has faced since the fall of Margaret Thatcher”, added a press release.
The documentary will offer “a ringside seat” to the precarious leadership position, Mr Neil said.
Expected to feature in the documentary is former Brexit minister Lord Frost, who dramatically resigned in December after expressing “concerns over the current direction of travel” and “coercive” COVID-19 curbs.
Also offering up commentary will be former Cabinet minister David Davis, who did not mince his words when he demanded the Prime Minister resign during Prime Minister’s Questions last week.
He told Mr Johnson in the Commons: “In the name of God, go.”
Louisa Compton, Channel 4’s head of news, current affairs and specialist factual and sport, said of the documentary: “With Boris Johnson’s future as UK Prime Minister seemingly hanging on a knife edge – who better to examine how we got here and what could happen next than Britain’s leading political journalist Andrew Neil?
“This timely film underlies the channel’s commitment to producing distinctive, thought-provoking and outstanding journalism.”
Simon Gilchrist, the documentary’s director, heralded the “tremendous privilege” he felt to work on one of the “most extraordinary and dynamic political story of our times”.
He added: “It’s not often one gets access to the key players within a political party as it tries to decide whether or not to depose the Prime Minister.”
Mr Johnson is teetering on the edge of a no-confidence cliff in his leadership as No10 awaits the outcome of civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into allegations of lockdown parties at Downing Street.
Ms Gray is investigating claims that events encouraging attendees to “bring your own booze” were held at No10 when strict COVID-19 restrictions were in force in 2020 and 2021.
Ms Gray’s report is expected to be published next week.
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Contributing to the uncertainty of its publication is a continuous stream of new allegations that must be figured into the scope of the report.
The main goal of the report was, in the Cabinet Office’s words, to: “Establish swiftly a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, the setting and the purpose, with reference to adherence to the guidance in place at the time.”
The investigation was originally launched to cover the period from November 27 to December 18, 2020.
This was extended to cover two parties, taking place on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral on April 16, 2020.
Mr Johnson offered his “heartfelt apologies” for attending a gathering at Downing Street in May 2020 that he believed to be a “work event”.
He said: “With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them.
“I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies.
“All I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her inquiry into that day and several others so that the full facts can be established.”
The investigation has prompted rumours over potential candidates to take over from Mr Johnson, fuelled by further allegations of “blackmail” against Tory MPs calling for Mr Johnson to step down.
Tory MP William Wragg announced last week that he would be meeting with Scotland Yard over allegations that “a number of Members of Parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the Government” in what he said would “would seem to constitute blackmail”.
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