Tory MPs Appeared to Ditch UK Culture Secretary From WhatsApp Group For Extolling ‘Hero' BoJo
08:30 GMT 19.12.2021 (Updated: 08:34 GMT 19.12.2021)
In what is seen as another blow to the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson, David Frost, who led the Brexit negotiations, has resigned from the government, raising “concerns about the current direction of travel”.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was booted from a Tory WhatsApp group after defending Boris Johnson during an exchange about the resignation of the core architect of the PM’s Brexit strategy – David Frost.
Messages from a 100-strong group called Clean Global Brexit, cited by Sky News, show Theresa Villiers, the former Northern Ireland secretary, referring to Lord Frost's exit as "very worrying".
MP Andrew Bridgen goes further, slamming it as a "disaster". The Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown replies, according to screenshots of the messages, that Frost’s exit is a "further hammer blow to the PM".
As Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh extolled Lord Frost as a "hero" who unwaveringly displayed a tough stance on Brexit, the Culture Secretary is seen as intervening, to write:
“The hero is the Prime Minister who delivered Brexit. I'm aware as someone said today that regicide is in the DNA of the Conservative party, but a bit of loyalty to the person who won an 83 majority and delivered Brexit wouldn't go amiss."
Seemingly without any warning, MP Steve Baker, former chair of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group, swiftly removed Nadine Dorries from the chat, following this up with “Enough is enough" and a thumbs-up emoji in his own image.
"Lord Frost was concerned about the policy direction of the Gov. So are most of the Conservative backbenchers," he added.
Another MP then responds by messaging that it was "about time". However, the Culture Secretary was not without some support, as another screenshot shows Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns replying to her:
"Absolutely right Nadine. Memory seems to be very short."
Baker then retorts that Boris Johnson was fortunate to win his big majority after the landslide election victory in December 2019, and adds: "But I suggest we not argue in this group. We have troubles enough in our immediate future."
Latest ‘Blow’ to Scandal-Plagued PM
Lord David Frost is understood to have quit due to unease over the direction of the party and factors such as high taxes, the push towards net zero emissions and new COVID restrictions. The resignation of the UK government’s most senior Brexit negotiator, first reported by The Mail on Sunday, was said to have been prompted by "disillusionment" with the direction of Boris Johnson’s government policy. In the early hours of Sunday the UK government released Frost's resignation letter, in which he stated that he will leave with immediate effect since "Brexit is now secure."
18 December 2021, 22:31 GMT
Frost was reportedly motivated by a broader discontent with tax rises, the policy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as new restrictions imposed against COVID-19. In his reply, Boris Johnson said he was “very sorry” to have received David Frost's resignation.
The PM had faced the largest Tory rebellion of his tenure over his coronavirus “Plan B”, with doubts cast regarding his performance amid previous scandals. “Partygate”, a series of allegations over illicit staff Christmas gatherings at No 10 amid last year’s lockdown, comes in the wake of sleaze scandals linked with violations of Commons lobbying rules.
Amid a torrid few weeks and brewing backbench rebellion, with sources claiming Tories were openly discussing a leadership challenge to Johnson, the PM’s personal ratings have plunged to an all-time low, 11 points down since the middle of November, a YouGov poll found.
17 December 2021, 12:07 GMT
After the UK Conservative Party sustained a crushing by-election defeat on 17 December, losing a traditional stronghold, North Shropshire, to the Liberal Democrats, Boris Johnson said that he takes personal responsibility for the election results.