Downing Street parties: As Boris Johnson delivers 'half-time pep talk', is final whistle approaching?

Quoting a character in the Lion King, Boris Johnson told Downing Street staff that “change is good” as he delivered a pep talk on Friday morning.

It followed a string of aides quitting No. 10, including Munira Mirza, the Prime Minister’s policy chief and long-standing ally.

She walked over Mr Johnson’s false claim that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had spent "most of his time" as director of public prosecutions "prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

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Boris Johnson's time may be running out

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Her resignation letter, which is worth reading in full, put it bluntly: "This was not the usual cut and thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse.”

In a week of continuing turmoil in Westminster, Mr Johnson’s false smear was a disturbing low point.

As critics were quick to point out, it had the distinct whiff of Donald Trump. It was “fake news”.

Such tactics cannot, and must not, be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of politics.

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In a press conference on Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak made clear his disapproval.

"With regards to the comments, being honest I wouldn’t have said it and I’m glad the Prime Minister clarified what he meant,” he said.

Many see Mr Sunak as a contender for the top job.

Westminster is always rife with rumour and gossip, but his comments will only have fuelled such speculation, as he surely knows.

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Notably, he failed to rule out a Tory leadership bid in an interview with the BBC, while insisting the Prime Minister had his “full support”.

"As Rafiki in the Lion King says, change is good, and change is necessary even though it's tough,” Mr Johnson told No. 10 staff.

He reportedly said: "This is like a half-time pep talk. This is the moment when [you] spit out the chewed up slice of orange.

"You put the gum-shield back in and then you get back on the pitch. That’s what we’re doing.”

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It’s classic Johnson. Unfortunately for him, Tory MPs may well agree that change is good. Big change.

After a week that started with Sue Gray’s damning partygate report, and ended with close aides quitting their jobs, is the final whistle now approaching?

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