Downing Street solely focused on keeping ‘monstrous ego’ Boris Johnson in power, says Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart has said the entire Downing Street operation is now focused solely on trying to keep “monstrous ego” Boris Johnson in power, as he warned about the erosion of trust in British politics and compared the current leadership to that of convicted fraudster and former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

The former Conservative cabinet minister joined a chorus of voices criticising the prime minister and his No 10 team after the damning Sue Gray report laid bare the extent of the lockdown-breaking behaviour at the heart of government.

Mr Stewart – who was defeated by Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory party leadership race – said: “They won’t make basic decisions, they won’t cut, for example, VAT on fuel, which is crucial to people’s lives. And the reason they can’t make decisions is they are fighting, day by day, these headlines.

“The whole of Downing Street is just about one thing, which is the survival of the prime minister. They are sacrificing everything, the country, the party, their careers, to try to keep this monstrous ego floating around in Downing Street.”

Ms Gray’s report detailed events at which officials sang karaoke, drank so much they were sick, became involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff.

Mr Stewart said that the slow drip of embarrassing stories for the prime minister and his administration had the cumulative effect of eroding trust in politics.

“You end up feeling like an aggrieved partner or wife,” he said. “Everytime he is like ‘it’s just one small thing, it’s just one party, it’s one cake, one leaving party, one prorogation of parliament, one lobbying scandal, one wallpaper problem, but they mount up to make our country feels like Berlusconi’s Italy.”

Mr Stewart is no ally of the prime minister. The former cabinet minister – who was expelled from the Conservative parliamentary party – previously said that Mr Johnson was an “amoral character” and “the most accomplished liar in public life”.

He said in January, when allegations of No 10 parties were swirling, that the prime minister “lies … he’s disorganised … he betrays almost every personal commitment that he has”.

He added: “He was manifestly unsuited to be prime minister from the beginning, so it’s very, very disturbing that a great country like Britain should have chosen somebody so unsuitable for the role.”

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