A clear-out of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street team could be the only thing that saves his premiership, MPs say

  • Tory MPs are calling for a ‘reset’ of Boris Johnson’s top team as he tries to recover his authority following a week of scandal.
  • Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, sent the infamous ‘bring your own booze’ email.
  • The PM’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield has presided over a ‘laddy’ culture in Downing Street, sources say.

Conservative MPs are calling for a “reset” of Boris Johnson’s top team in Downing Street if he wants to save his premiership, after another week of allegations about lockdown-busting parties at Number 10.

Johnson endured a torrid few days after admitting he attended a “bring your own booze” event held in the Downing Street garden, prompting several senior Conservatives to call for his resignation.

Questions over the prime minister’s future grew even further after The Telegraph reported on Thursday that Downing Street staff held two more alcohol-fuelled parties the evening before Prince Philip’s funeral, where the Queen sat alone to comply with lockdown rules in place at the time.

One minister told Insider there was “a growing view” that the prime minister needed to clear out key members of his Downing Street operation, which has been blamed for poor decision-making, bad communication with MPs and a lack of political foresight.

Those calls accelerated after this week’s revelations, with MPs calling for Johnson to sack his Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield, his Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, and his Director of Communications Jack Doyle.

One Conservative MP told Insider: “Boris has surrounded himself with people who were strong on the Brexit campaign, or who get tabloid issues, but when it comes to governance are completely clueless.”

The Financial Times on Friday reported that Johnson is considering such a cull of his top staff ahead of a report by civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating allegations of multiple parties in Downing Street and elsewhere.

Reynolds, who invited more than 100 people to the garden drinks party, is being lined up as the “fall guy”, the Daily Mail reported.m 

The minister, who spoke to Insider on the condition of anonymity, compared Johnson’s current situation with that of his first year as Mayor of London, saying his time had only “stablised” following a mass exodus of his initial hires. 

Johnson must now do the same in Downing Street to allow “Boris to go off and do what he does well”, the minister added.

Several former Downing Street staffers have claimed that Rosenfield, who was installed as the prime minister’s chief of staff in January 2021, oversaw a “la ddy” culture in which junior and female staff had often felt excluded.

One told Insider: “There has more generally also been a very blokey culture that has come in [under Rosenfield] which really surprised a lot of us — and is probably best characterized as the investment bankers of the 1970s, whereby it’s sort of all matey and talking about going out on the lash.”

“I think he’s not necessarily being well-served by everybody around him,” he added.

Another said: “[Rosenfield] has developed a very laddy culture which is about beer-drinking and football. It’s a really weird and outdated way to get people onside.” Another former staffer said there had been a “marked deterioration” in the working culture after Rosenfield arrived.

It follows a Sunday Times report which said Rosenfield presided over an “overbearing” culture that contributed to the departures of several female staff. The report said Rosenfield had made junior staff buy sandwiches for his lunch, collect his dry-cleaning, and buy presents for him.  

“What that meant in practice is that increasingly people, particularly experts in the policy unit with subject-specific expertise that’s really useful would be excluded from meetings,” the former staffer said.