oris Johnson will face MPs after tinkering with his top team as he looks to stave off a confidence vote and lay the foundations for the next election battle.
After months of being dogged by partygate allegations and a fresh controversy over his Jimmy Savile remarks, the Prime Minister opted to embark on a mini-reshuffle on Tuesday as he attempts to regain his grip on power.
Expected to join him 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.
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.
The same newspaper also reported allies of the Prime Minister had said he would not resign even if the police investigation into alleged lockdown-breaking parties in No 10 results in him being fined.
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”.
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.