BORIS Johnson must scrap masks and Covid vaccine passports, ditch the booze culture at No 10 and have a staff clear out to save his career, Cabinet ministers demanded last night.
The embattled Prime Minister must put Britain back on the road to freedom in two weeks to stand a chance of surviving, they warned.
Their plan for Boris emerged as civil war broke out among the Conservatives over the Downing Street party scandal — with some calling for Mr Johnson’s head.
Covid Plan B curbs — including vaccine passports, compulsory masks and work from home orders — are loathed by Tory MPs and due to be reviewed on January 26.
One Cabinet minister told The Sun yesterday: “There’s a very easy way to get back into MPs’ good books, but there will be a fight.”
They added that the PM would need “stomach” to stare down medics and teaching unions who want mask wearing to continue for months to come.
But they said the plan is “his only ace left to play”.
Conservative MPs have also expressed dismay at the sheer scale of partying and boozing that has appeared to take place at Downing Street and urged him to “get a grip” and put an end to it.
Another top Tory suggested that Mr Johnson “take a broom to No 10” and “clear out the metropolitan elites” in order to reconnect with his party and voters. Boris is believed to be hopeful that he can ditch Plan B at the end of the month. His officials are also working on a move to scrap all remaining legal Covid curbs later in the year.
They hope Mr Johnson, 57, can become the first major world leader to effectively declare their country has transitioned from epidemic to endemic — like the flu. One government insider said: “People are working under the presumption that all things will fall away. The question is when.”
But the party’s mood remained dark yesterday, with many predicting that Mr Johnson will not last long enough to declare victory over coronavirus. One senior minister compared him to the bungling former king of bling Gerald Ratner, 72 — who sank his jewellery empire with an ill-fated speech slagging off his own cheap products.
They said: “It is a bit like when Ratner joked that he could flog a decanter and sherry glasses for £4.95 because they were crap. If this is Boris’ Ratner moment then he is broken.
“A few announcements will not rescue it. If you think it is terminal then you may as well sell up and start again.”
Another senior Tory said it is now just a question of “when” Boris will be booted out of Downing Street. The MP said: “You can’t have somebody who misleads you.” Boris was bunkered down in No 10 yesterday after cancelling a planned trip to the Red Wall after a family member caught Covid.
He was laying low as his warring party continued to tear chunks out of each other over his future. It followed the PM’s “heartfelt” apology on Wednesday for the party at the height of lockdown.
It is a bit like when Ratner joked that he could flog a decanter and sherry glasses for £4.95 because they were crap. If this is Boris’ Ratner moment then he is broken.
He said he believed the sunshine knees-up last May was a “work event” and spent 25 minutes there to thank pandemic-weary staff. But his apology was panned by Tory MPs and bereaved families.
Details of the “bring your own booze” bash had been leaked — sparking public fury. Last night Mr Johnson’s ministerial allies continued their rearguard action to defend their boss.
Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse said: “I think he was right to apologise and, absolutely, I do support him. Over the last couple of years he’s done an extraordinary job bringing us through the pandemic. He’s obviously apologised to the House (of Commons), there’s an inquiry under way. We have to wait and see what the inquiry says, and then see what he has to say.”
The Metropolitan Police said they would wait until the finding of senior Civil Servant Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street parties before deciding whether or not to launch their own investigation.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “absolutely right” for the force to bide its time. She said: “There’s an ongoing investigation that needs to conclude, then obviously other actions could be taken post that. But we can’t pre-empt things right now.”
In an astonishing barb yesterday, senior Government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg branded Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross “a lightweight” after the Highlander called for the PM to quit. But the Scottish Conservatives furiously hit back.
Jamie Green, a Scottish Tory politician, said Rees-Mogg “should go and have a long lie down — maybe not in the House of Commons”. While they snubbed the PM by disinviting him to their spring conference.
Polling guru Sir John Curtice said the Partygate row has turned so toxic that Boris could end up sinking the Tories’ chances of re-election — as a new YouGov poll showed the Conservatives have sunk to ten points behind Labour.
He said: “The truth is, the Conservative electorate is now divided down the middle on this subject. We have now more than one poll, that suggests that basically, for every Conservative voter of 2019, who thinks that the Prime Minister should remain in post, there is now another one who thinks that he should resign.
“That is a pretty difficult position for a leader of a party. Opposition voters will always be saying we want our opponent’s leader to resign, the problem now is a lot of Boris Johnson’s own voters are in that camp.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet ministers suggested lockdown went too far. Speaking about the Covid inquiry, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Decisions were taken at the beginning of the pandemic that affected people up and down the country.
“We must consider as this goes to an inquiry that we look into what happened with Covid, whether all those regulations were proportionate, or whether it was too hard on people”.
GOING MISSING IS FISHY, RISHI
Harry Cole, Political Editor
TORY leadership contender Rishi Sunak was accused last night of “playing silly b***ers” by Cabinet rivals after giving Boris Johnson only lukewarm backing.
The Chancellor, who many see as BoJo’s successor should Partygate force out the PM, was accused of stirring up trouble by going missing on Wednesday. On one of Mr Johnson’s toughest days as he grovelled over Downing Street rule breaking, Mr Sunak was in Devon and missed the Commons mauling.
Loyal ministers are livid he gave only public support to the PM in the form of a vague tweet in the evening. One minister blasted: “Rishi owes his job to the PM and playing silly bers like that was pretty low.”
Allies of Mr Sunak said he is right behind Mr Johnson, whose spokesman yesterday also insisted the Cabinet fully supported the PM.