Boris Johnson's worst week in office is not about to get easier

Credit: PA

This was undoubtedly Boris Johnson's worst week in office. Arguably the worst week of any modern premiership for the sheer breadth of bombshell developments. The revelations and allegations are piling up against the Prime Minister, and it isn't about to get any easier.

Next week the government will face a sizeable Conservative rebellion on its plans to introduce Covid 'Plan B' in response to the Omicron variant

Reports now suggest at least 60 Tory backbenchers will vote against measures on face masks and Covid passports, leaving Boris Johnson in the incredibly uncomfortable position of having to rely on Labour to get them through.

That always makes a government look weak, but the timing for Johnson's government couldn't be worse.

A tough week behind him and a tough week ahead - ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt outlines the allegations and challenges facing the PM

Some Tory MPs, we understand, are joining the rebels' ranks on Covid measures simply to send a message to the Prime Minister that they are not happy about Downing Street Christmas parties and wallpaper.

"[This week has been] an absolute disgrace," said one Conservative MP, "he is losing it frankly."

Another described to me the mood in the party as "the pits", and while there is no direct correlation between the number of Tory rebels and the number required to trigger a Tory leadership contest (54) to remove the Prime Minister from office, on Saturday came the starkest warning yet that patience is running thin.

Coronavirus: What you need to know - Inside ITV News' leaked video scoop

Writing in The Critic, leader of the Tory rebels Steve Baker says: "I would dearly love to see Boris grip this mess and turn things around. The time to do it is not much longer." 

The mood would worsen considerably if the party were to somehow lose the North Shropshire by-election on Thursday.

My colleague Anushka Asthana found some very unhappy voters in this safest of Tory seats, previously held by Owen Paterson with a majority of 23,000. Again, the timing could not be worse for Boris Johnson, and on Saturday came another warning from another Conservative MP.Sir Roger Gale told ITV News: "I think an adverse result in North Shropshire could well for this Prime Minister be a tipping point, and I think he might find his position, were we to lose badly, would then be effectively untenable."

But it's the judgement of one man - Lord Geidt, the independent standards adviser - that could prove critical next week.

He is said to be unhappy over alleged contradictions in the evidence Boris Johnson gave him in his investigation over the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, and the findings of a separate Electoral Commission report this week.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds outside No.10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

Downing Street denies Lord Geidt was misled, but if he concludes otherwise (finding effectively that Boris Johnson lied) then the PM faces the charge of misleading Parliament and breaking the ministerial code. 

The end of this week marks the two-year anniversary of Boris Johnson's stonking election victory.

His approval ratings are at an all-time low, his party now trail in the opinion polls, the scandals are reaching Omicron-levels of multiplication. 

Instead of raising a glass this weekend, the Prime Minister is gripping on to power.