Boris Johnson must look to former US President Bill Clinton’s survival of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal for Brexit tactics, his chief enforcer claims.
Despite nearly being brought down by the Lewinsky affair, Mr Clinton left the White House in 2000 more popular than when he entered ‘by focusing on things that matter to real people rather than obsessing about Washington’, Dominic Cummings has argued.
The claim came as Downing Street confirmed it would allow Commons time for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s Government if tabled by the SNP this week.
Boris Johnson faces questions about the nature of his relationship with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, pictured, whom he was close to while Mayor of London
The PM’s enforcer Dominic Cummings believes Johnson can face down scandals in the same way President Bill Clinton did after he faced impeachment over his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, pictured together in the Oval Office
The bold move presents the bizarre spectacle of Labour abstaining or even backing the Government if they wish to continue avoiding an Election.
Amid swirling allegations of impropriety due to Mr Johnson’s friendship with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri during his time as Mayor of London, and bitter Commons scenes, Mr Cummings has urged the PM and his staff to ‘ignore mental Westminster’.
He told a Downing Street staff meeting on Friday evening: ‘Clinton was one of the only presidents who had higher ratings at the end of his term because throughout the impeachment he ignored what was happening in Washington and focused on real issues outside the beltway [the highway encircling Washington DC].’
The pep talk came amid a mounting furore over the Government’s use of the term ‘Surrender Act’ to described MPs’ efforts to seek a delay to Brexit
Mr Cummings told staff: ‘We are going to ram the “surrender act” down their throats. Surrender is exactly what this Parliament has done for the last three years.’
As the row continued, yesterday the Scottish National Party became the first opposition party to break cover and demand a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson.
SNP MP Stewart Hosie said that bringing down the Government might be the only way to stop No Deal Brexit through delaying the UK’s departure, and they could demand the vote this week.
‘We have to do that because there is now no confidence that the Prime Minister will obey the law and seek the extension that Parliament voted for only a few weeks ago,’ he told the BBC.
So far, opposition leaders have resisted the vote, fearing Mr Johnson could win, or if he is defeated, simply delay the resulting Election until after 31 October, meaning Britain would leave the EU without Parliament sitting. Jeremy Corbyn yesterday again rowed back from a no confidence vote, claiming measures to stop No Deal must be put in place first.
But last night Government confirmed they would allow Commons time for the vote, even if it was not tabled by the official Opposition as is tradition.
A Downing Street source said: ‘If the SNP wish to bring a formal vote of no confidence under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act we will give them time at an early opportunity.’ The SNP ultimatum came as No 10 began to ‘war game’ on how Mr Johnson could survive breaking his ‘do or die’ promise to leave the EU on Halloween.
Publicly Downing Street insist that the October 31 deadline is ‘immovable’ but in private Mr Johnson’s closest aides have begun to ‘pitch roll’ how they could spin having an extension thrust upon them by the courts and Parliament.
A senior Downing Street source told The Mail on Sunday they believed Mr Johnson could survive the setback, as the public are mature enough to know who was responsible. ‘All the feedback we are getting is as long as he is seen to do literally everything he possibly can to leave – including going to jail – the public are grown up enough to see who really was to blame,’ the source said.
The strategist continued: ‘The Opposition is betting the house on the public blaming Boris for delaying Brexit, when actually it’s their wrecking tactics.
‘The Dead Parliament can try keep Boris prisoner but at some point they are going to have to face the public.’
However one Cabinet Minister poured cold water on the claims, saying: ‘He can’t extend. He really cannot extend. It would be worse than Nick Clegg and tuition fees.’
However in a boost for Mr Johnson’s hopes of getting Brexit through the Commons, Tory backbenchers and suspended rebels have agreed to sign a written pledge backing a deal if Mr Johnson is able to hammer one out with the EU in the next two weeks.
It reads: ‘We, the undersigned will vote for a deal that protects the jobs and livelihoods of our constituents and enables the UK to leave the EU on October 31 2019.’
PM ‘is toast if Brexit is delayed again’
BY BRENDAN CARLIN
The Prime Minister faces a Tory plot to oust him if he fails to deliver Brexit by Halloween.
Tory sources revealed that rivals are already preparing to strike if Mr Johnson does not fulfil his pledge to take the UK out of the EU by October 31.
MPs say they are being quietly approached by both Remain and Leave wings of the party who claim Mr Johnson’s credibility will be ‘shot through’ if he fails to deliver his promise.
Boris Johnson, pictured arriving in Manchester last night along with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, left, could face a plot from within his own ranks by hardline Brexiteers if he fails to guide Britain out of the European Union by his ‘die in a ditch’ deadline
The manoeuvring has been branded ‘madness’ by Johnson loyalists. But one Tory MP told The Mail on Sunday the Prime Minister’s vow to quit by the end of next month ‘do or die’ was the problem.
He said: ‘That pledge means Boris is already walking around with a knife stuck in him. He’s just waiting or someone to stick it in deeper. The argument is, that if we’re not out when the clocks strikes 11pm on October 31, Boris is toast if he doesn’t resign.’
The Prime Minister has insisted that he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than ask for a further Brexit extension. But loyal Tory MPs dismiss claims that he would have to quit if Brexit does not happen on time, insisting he would be able to blame the ‘Remainer’ Commons for thwarting the 2016 referendum result.
One said: ‘It won’t be Boris who would be defying the wish of the British people. It will be the House of Commons and these Remainer MPs who have never accepted the decisive Leave vote.’
- Tory defector Phillip Lee will challenge arch-Brexiteer and ex-party colleague John Redwood for his Wokingham seat at the next Election. Now a Lib Dem, Dr Lee, who currently represents next-door Bracknell, will have to overturn Mr Redwood’s 18,798 majority over Labour.