Margaret Thatcher's press secretary Bernard Ingham offers PM three tips to survive Tory rebellion 1

Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary Bernard Ingham offers PM three tips to survive Tory rebellion

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When Margaret Thatcher was forced by her own ministers to resign in November 1990 after 11 years in power, her press secretary Bernard Ingham stayed loyal until the very end.

Now, Sir Bernard, 89, has given the current occupant of Downing Street some friendly words of advice.

Writing about Boris Johnson in the Yorkshire Post, the former civil servant addressed this month’s Downing Street Christmas Party scandal and Tuesday’s rebellion by 100 Tory MPs against the PM’s decision to impose ‘Plan B’ coronavirus measures.

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Offering him three tips to survive, he said the PM should ‘cut the busking and blaster’ and avoid appointing another ‘enforcer’ like Dominic Cummings, whom he previously branded ‘Mr Malevolent’.

Sir Bernard also called on senior Tory MPs to ‘demand a meeting’ with the Government to ‘bring about change’.

Mr Johnson should also begin his day with a ‘stocktaking’ of recent events to identify how they could have been ‘better handled’.

Sir Bernard added that the PM needs a ‘tightly knit group’ of ‘politically motivated’ advisers to ‘scour’ the Government’s output for ‘anomalies and inconsistencies’ and said that if Mr Johnson ‘still goes his own way’, then ‘God help Boris – and us’.

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Mrs Thatcher’s former press chief was writing as Mr Johnson continued to grapple with a growing rebellion in his own party following the recent scandals and the imposition of Plan B measures to curb the spread of Omicron.

When Margaret Thatcher was forced by her own ministers to resign in November 1990 after 11 years in power, her press secretary Bernard Ingham stayed loyal until the very end. Pictured: The pair in Downing Street in 1983

When Margaret Thatcher was forced by her own ministers to resign in November 1990 after 11 years in power, her press secretary Bernard Ingham stayed loyal until the very end. Pictured: The pair in Downing Street in 1983

Now, Sir Bernard, 89, has given the current occupant of Downing Street some friendly words of advice. Writing about Boris Johnson in the Yorkshire Post, the former civil servant addressed this month's Downing Street Christmas Party scandal and Tuesday's rebellion by 100 Tory MPs against the PM's decision to impose 'Plan B' coronavirus measures

Now, Sir Bernard, 89, has given the current occupant of Downing Street some friendly words of advice. Writing about Boris Johnson in the Yorkshire Post, the former civil servant addressed this month’s Downing Street Christmas Party scandal and Tuesday’s rebellion by 100 Tory MPs against the PM’s decision to impose ‘Plan B’ coronavirus measures

It emerged today that the entire leadership of the powerful 1922 Committee had joined the backbench revolt over the Plan B measures, which included the imposition of Covid passes to get into certain venues.

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Conservative MPs were told that the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, will accept letters of no confidence in the PM over Christmas.

Mr Johnson is also facing potential defeat in today’s North Shropshire by-election, which was held after former minister Owen Paterson resigned as an MP following a lobbying scandal.

The PM was severely criticised by MPs for the way he attempted to re-write parliament’s anti-corruption rules in the days after the revelations about Mr Paterson’s actions emerged.

MPs now want the PM to ‘reset’ his entire operation to avoid any further setbacks.

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Offering him three tips to survive, he said the PM should avoid appointing another 'enforcer' like Dominic Cummings, whom he previously branded 'Mr Malevolent', and called on senior Tory MPs to 'demand a meeting' with the Government to 'bring about change'

Offering him three tips to survive, he said the PM should avoid appointing another ‘enforcer’ like Dominic Cummings, whom he previously branded ‘Mr Malevolent’, and called on senior Tory MPs to ‘demand a meeting’ with the Government to ‘bring about change’

Sir Bernard referred in his weekly Yorkshire Post column to how Mr Cummings has fired repeated salvos at the PM since he resigned from his post as his chief adviser last year.

He said: ‘Dominic Cummings, his vicious former chief adviser, is not the only one who has it in for him. 

‘Some of those in or around the Government machine take every opportunity to twist the knife when he lands in a spot of bother.

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‘And he is certainly in trouble with three issues round his neck – Wallpapergate, as the refurbishment of his Downing Street living quarters is inevitably called; Christmas parties or gatherings or quizzes in No 10 a year ago when the rest of us were supposed to be holed up because of the pandemic; and a Tory revolt over his latest ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions.’

Sir Bernard added that the uproar over the Downing Street party reveals the ‘animus’ against the PM as well as the ‘depths to which our politics have sunk’.

Highlighting how the UK is also grappling with issues that include a significant budget deficit, fraught relations with the European Union since Brexit was implemented and ‘concern’ about the NHS’s ability to cope with winter, he said the focus on the ‘illegal’ party ‘does not say much for our sense of priorities’.

However, he said he doubts that Tory MPs ‘really’ want to force the PM to resign, because despite his ‘approach to life’, he ‘gets the big thing done’

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He gave Mr Johnson advice in the event that ‘our political Houdini’ ‘escapes’ from the current MPs’ ‘mutiny’ and the result of the North Shropshire by-election.

Sir Bernard was Mrs Thatcher's press secretary for all of her time as Prime Minister, from 1979 until 1990. Above: Sir Bernard with Mrs Thatcher and her husband Dennis in 1998

Sir Bernard was Mrs Thatcher’s press secretary for all of her time as Prime Minister, from 1979 until 1990. Above: Sir Bernard with Mrs Thatcher and her husband Dennis in 1998

Mrs Thatcher was forced to resign after a series of senior ministers quit her cabinet and fierce rival Michael Heseltine mounted a leadership challenge

Mrs Thatcher was forced to resign after a series of senior ministers quit her cabinet and fierce rival Michael Heseltine mounted a leadership challenge

Sir Bernard added: ‘His present imbroglios are probably his last chance to bring some order to the often chaotic government we have experienced, even allowing for all the serious problems it has on its plate.’

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Sir Bernard was Mrs Thatcher’s press secretary for nearly all of her time as Prime Minister, from 1979 until 1990.

She was forced to resign after a series of senior ministers quit her cabinet and fierce rival Michael Heseltine mounted a leadership challenge.

Mrs Thatcher was in Paris when the result of the first ballot of the leadership contest was announced.

In April last year, Sir Bernard (pictured at Mrs Thatcher's funeral in 2013) lashed out at Mr Cummings, saying Whitehall had become 'demoralised' at the way senior mandarins had been removed at the behest of the adviser

In April last year, Sir Bernard (pictured at Mrs Thatcher’s funeral in 2013) lashed out at Mr Cummings, saying Whitehall had become ‘demoralised’ at the way senior mandarins had been removed at the behest of the adviser

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She then declared it was her intention to ‘let my name go forward for the second ballot’ after Sir Bernard famously pushed the BBC’s John Sergeant out of the way during a live television broadcast.

However, after being advised by dozens of her party colleagues that she should quit instead of continuing to fight the challenge, Mrs Thatcher resigned.

In April last year, Sir Bernard lashed out at Mr Cummings, saying Whitehall had become ‘demoralised’ at the way senior mandarins had been removed at the behest of the adviser.   

‘At its [the Government’s] heart is the malevolent presence of Dominic Cummings, the PM’s principal adviser, who thinks the Civil Service is pretty useless and the machine would be better in the hands of weirdos like himself,’ Sir Bernard said. 

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