Boris Johnson prepares to face MPs at PMQs with updated team as he tries to regain his grip on power

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Boris Johnson is to face PMQs with allegations of Covid-19 lockdown-rule breaking gatherings still swirling around him and after Downing Street insisted the prime minister will not apologise for his Jimmy Savile attack on Sir Keir Starmer - which has been widely discredited - even after the Labour leader was mobbed by protesters making the same false claim.

MPs from across the political divide remain angry with him over both issues, with at least 15 of his own MPs calling for him to go, nine of who have publicly submitted letters of no confidence in him.

It will also be the first session of Prime Minister's Questions for Mr Johnson with his new top team in place.

On Friday and Saturday, five of his top aides resigned (speculation suggesting three of who were pushed out due to their links to the partygate scandal) - several of who have since been replaced - and on Tuesday, Mr Johnson carried out a mini Cabinet reshuffle.

James Cleverly has been made Europe minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg is becoming a Brexit minister and Mark Spencer will be leader of the Commons. Credit: PA

However, there has been some criticism in the reappointment of roles with former chief whip Mark Spencer replacing Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the Commons - a role that includes the responsibility for standards of behaviour in Westminster, but he is currently being investigated over accusations of Islamophobia, raised by fellow MP Nusrat Ghani - claims he has denied.

The actions from the PM are thought to be him trying to stave off a confidence vote - which could ultimately topple him if one is triggered - and lay the foundations for the next election battle.

Expected to join the PM on the frontbench for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday is new Chip Whip Chris Heaton-Harris.

The long-time ally of Mr Johnson replaces Mark Spencer, who was moved to Leader of the Commons after a series of missteps in managing the Conservative parliamentary party.

Mr Spencer’s predecessor Jacob Rees-Mogg was shuffled into the newly minted role of Minister for Brexit Opportunities, in a move seen as an attempt to appease the Tory right-wing faction.

But Labour doesn't think the reshuffle will change anything in government until the leader is gone.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden told ITV News "chaos comes from the man and as long as the man is there the chaos will continue".

He said the prime minister no longer has any authority because "trust has been eroded" by his behaviour and handling of partygate.

Mr Heaton-Harris, asked by BBC Newsnight whether Mr Johnson’s changes had “saved his premiership”, said: “I would like to think we have a very strong prime minister who is going to continue and get stronger and stronger and lead us into the next election, which we will win comfortably”.

The Daventry MP is said to have played a role in the “shadow whipping operation” aimed at seeing off efforts to oust the prime minister in the wake of the drip-feed of Downing Street rule-breaking allegations.

Another of those rumoured to have played a part in shoring up Mr Johnson’s position when under fire was Christopher Pincher, who has been handed the job of Deputy Chief Whip – a position the Tamworth MP previously held under Theresa May.

According to a report in The Times, the prime minister has chosen to make smaller changes now before a fuller ministerial overhaul in the summer, as he prepares to make his team battle-ready for a general election.

The next national poll is due to take place in 2024, but there have been suggestions that Mr Johnson could push for it to be held a year early.

Chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris and former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

The same newspaper also reported allies of Mr Johnson had said he would not resign even if the police investigation into alleged lockdown-breaking parties in No 10 results in him being fined.

Despite Mr Johnson's efforts in recent days to create a clean break from the allegations and claims made against him, he suffered another blow on Tuesday when billionaire Tory donor John Armitage told the BBC he thought Mr Johnson had “passed the point of no return”.

“Politicians should go into politics to do good for their country. That is the overwhelming reason to be in politics. I don’t think it’s about your own personal sense of getting to the top of a snakes-and-ladders game,” Mr Armitage said.

Along with the party claims, Mr Johnson stoked fresh controversy last week by accusing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile while head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Downing Street has made it clear that Mr Johnson does not plan to apologise but he is likely to face renewed calls to do so when he fields questions from MPs on Wednesday.

Critics have said the jibe is completely unfounded and have blamed the remark for anti-Covid restriction demonstrators targeting Sir Keir on Monday outside Parliament, with a mob accusing him of being a “paedophile protector”.

Sir Keir apologised while director of public prosecutions in 2013 for the CPS having failed to bring Savile to justice four years earlier, over what at the time was deemed to be a lack of evidence.

There is, however, no evidence that Sir Keir had any personal role in the failure to prosecute the man who was one of Britain’s most egregious sex offenders before his death in 2011.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, speaking on a visit to east London on Tuesday, said the images of the opposition leader being bundled into a police car to be escorted away from protesters were “completely disgraceful”.

But the Cabinet minister, who has previously distanced himself from the PM’s Savile comments, said “the people that are to blame are the protesters themselves” rather than Mr Johnson.