Boris Johnson is a star in India, but a partygate hangover is pounding at home

“I WOULDN’T get that anywhere,” joked Boris Johnson after being greeted by a sea of ​​Union Jacks and cheering crowds in India.

The amused Prime Minister landed for a visit to the superpower and was greeted by hundreds of giant posters with his face lining the street from Ahmedabad Airport in Gujarat.

Partygate has overshadowed Boris Johnson's historic trade trip to India


Partygate has overshadowed Boris Johnson’s historic trade trip to IndiaCredit: PA

But his self-reflective comment came after his own MPs blasted his groundbreaking trade trip with another round of conspiracy to oust him over the never-ending Partygate saga.

While a troupe of Gujarati dancing girls and boys staged a street carnival in his honor, Westminster barked again for the Prime Minister’s head.

Boris left for India on Wednesday optimistic Partygate was over. But he returns today and faces a THIRD investigation into the saga.

For once, Labor came to a fight well-armed and well-organized as they scramble to launch a new Commons inquiry into lockdown-breaking in No10.

It comes on top of the ongoing police investigation and the yet-to-be-released Whitehall Inquiry.

Even Labor MPs privately admit it’s unlikely to produce new bombshell evidence, but that’s not the point.

The Prime Minister’s enemies are now just desperate to keep this hurtful story alive.

The arrival of rock star Boris in India makes it clear why Sir Keir Starmer doesn’t want to face this world-renowned celebrity at the ballot box.

But Downing Street insiders now fear Tory MPs are all too willing to do Starmer’s dirty work – whether they realize it or not.

Chaotic handling of another turnaround

As Johnson’s key ally, Conor Burns, the Northern Ireland minister, warned yesterday, some Tories have never gotten over Mr Johnson’s confiscation of the keys to No 10 and will never stop until he’s gone.

“If the Prime Minister stepped onto the water off Westminster Bridge they would say he couldn’t swim, that’s a fact,” he raged.

The fear now is: will it ever stop? The PM issued more than 40 apologies in the House of Commons on Monday, but it still wasn’t enough.

Has a turning point been reached? What happens if there are more fines?

Tory MP and leading Boris critic Tobias Ellwood believes a challenge to Mr Johnson’s leadership is now “inevitable”.

But given that the prime minister is said to be affectionately referring to him as “that c*** Ellwood,” it’s unlikely to be the death knell.

However, veteran Westminster observers are no longer so sure of his survival.

Another probe opens up a whole new source of pain, especially given that the new probe could see Boris now being dragged before MPs for embarrassing evidence of his own conduct.

To the delight of the opposition, there is a risk that the story will drag on for another year – dangerously close to the general elections expected in 2023 or 2024.

Tory MPs are never more nervous than when their own re-election is in doubt. Could enough of them panic?

But it’s not yet clear if the prime minister realizes the trouble he’s in.

On the plane to India on Wednesday, it was clear he thought paying his £50 fine would have ended the dispute.

He repeatedly told hackers that instead of endlessly asking questions about pies, it was time for them to focus on “issues that voters really care about.”

Boris Johnson wanted his trip to India to dominate the news


Boris Johnson wanted his trip to India to dominate the newsPhoto credit: AFP

He was even relaxed enough to share tantalizing snippets of Westminster intrigue over a June reshuffle and why he wouldn’t sack Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

But on Thursday he was asked if he would even be in charge of the next household.

Earlier this morning, things were clearly going according to plan as the Prime Minister sent his aides for a dip in the hotel pool.

And he didn’t lose any sleep until lunchtime, when he took a long nap in a Chinook helicopter during a business trip. But fast forward a few hours and once again Boris and his whips were battling a growing rebellion at home.

When London woke up five hours later, it was clear the Government did not have the numbers to reject Solicitor Starmer’s harshly worded House of Commons motion calling for a new Partygate inquiry.

The distance contributed to the chaotic handling of another spectacular government U-turn. In the face of a rebellion by MPs, it was decided to let the Labor demand through.

Despite his 80-seat majority, the prime minister could not force his own MPs to crush them.

Adding to this dangerous precedent for the remainder of his term, two other MPs stuck their heads over the parapet to warn him that the “performance was over”.

By Friday, the prime minister’s slightly pathetic insistence that he had nothing to hide from an inquiry might have faded had he not spent the first half of this week ordering his side to block it.

The prospect of the new inquiry lowered the prime minister’s spirits, and he was quick to broadcast interviews focused on the saga.

“Ask me about the trip,” he asked tiredly and in vain.

Yesterday, Boris was visibly upset about the developments.

At his press conference at the end of the tour, he refused to talk further about Partygate. When asked if he was a dying cat, he gruffly replied that “the cat has been kicked enough already,” before hastily clarifying that he’d never kicked a real cat.

After being serenaded by a military band in the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan – once the palace of the Viceroys of India – the Prime Minister reflected on his trip last night. “I had a fantastic reception, absolutely fantastic, I felt like Sachin Tendulkar,” he said, referring to the legendary Indian cricketer.

“I was everywhere and it was amazing.”

But he ended up in the news that further fines have been slapped on No10 staff – this time for the “Bring Your Own Bottle” garden party he himself attended in the summer of 2020.

Prime Minister’s Tory enemies would love India to be his swan song. But he is confident of surviving. In Boris’ favour, his own MPs are nowhere near unanimous on who should replace him.

And yet he is just a single digit behind Labor in the polls, with the public showing no burning appetite for a bland Keir Starmer.

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But when it comes to the question of how and when Partygate ends?

No10 will have to accept that after a chaotic week like this they are not in control of events.

After a difficult week, Boris Johnson is facing growing questions about his future


After a difficult week, Boris Johnson is facing growing questions about his futurePhoto credit: Reuters Boris Johnson is a star in India, but a partygate hangover is pounding at home


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