Boris Johnson told by MPs to clear out 'woke' advisors as he fights to save job

Boris Johnson told by MPs to clear out 'woke' advisors as he fights to save job
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts a virtual press conference on January 4, 2022.JACK HILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • Boris Johnson is at odds with many of his MPs for pushing climate policies as living costs rise.
  • They blame "the Notting Hill crew," including Zac Goldsmith, Henry Newman, and Johnson's wife Carrie.

Conservative MPs are calling on Boris Johnson to get rid of some of his closest advisors and ditch his focus on environmentalism to reset relations with the party and save his job.

Several backbenchers said the prime minister's more hardline approach on climate issues was out of kilter with Tory voters, and blamed "the Notting Hill crew" for the damage.

They spoke to Insider on the condition of anonymity in order to frankly describe internal party struggles.

Henry Newman, one of the prime minister's closest aides, and Lord Goldsmith, an environment minister and friend, have come under particular fire. They are seen as pushing Johnson towards policies that could result in higher living costs in the UK.

Backbenchers, particularly those in the Red Wall, are uneasy about Johnson pushing Britons to adopt electric vehicles and heat pumps at a time when the technology is still developing and expensive.


One former minister said: "Zac Goldsmith is a menace — everything that has gone wrong in the last nine months is down to Zac. He and Henry have way too much influence.

"Zac is busy on Twitter, slagging off fellow Tories who are concerned about the cost-of-living crisis. He's clearly been given licence to slag us off… he's on another planet."

The MP continued: "It's been raised with the PM, in lots of meetings with small groups. People are not happy… it's upsetting a lot of loyal MPs."

"I blame Boris for not having the right people around him."

Another Tory MP described Goldsmith and Newman as part of a "woke crowd" causing consternation among Conservative MPs. He noted that they "both have a common denominator in their link to Carrie," referring to Johnson's wife.


He said: "Carrie is very close to Henry and Zac and I think there is a sense, rightly or wrongly, in the parliamentary party that a lot of this is driven by her. I don't remember Boris speaking that much about it as a priority in the past."

The MP argued that while MPs and voters were on board with the need to tackle climate change. However, he said, "it just feels like not a priority when there are other fish we need to be frying, and you look at the impact on people's bills."

Tory MPs have repeatedly warned about spiraling prices, with energy costs in particular a concern. The price cap for default energy tariffs rose sharply in 2021 and is expected to jump again in April.

MPs made their feelings clear on this issue in recent days while Johnson has been canvassing backbenchers for support amid an ongoing leadership crisis, the MP said.

Whether he changes course, he said, will be a "good test of whether they are listening".


On Thursday Lord Frost, until recently Johnson's Brexit minister, called on the prime minister to sack "all the neo-socialists, green fanatics and pro-woke crowd."

Over the last few days MPs have been called in to see Johnson's team, sometimes in one-to-one meetings, sometimes in groups, in a bid to rally the MPs around their leader.

Operation Save Big Dog, as it is known in Westminster, has spawned a shadow whipping operation led by housing minister Chris Pincher, alongside the formal whips' team run by Mark Spencer.

Ministers and loyal backbenchers were also deployed to warn of the risks to the party should MPs fail to throw their weight behind the prime minister, MPs told Insider.

The subjects of the lobbying effort said it was obviously coordinated, but nonetheless chaotic. One backbencher said he was contacted by four different people within 24 hours, who all said the same thing.


"What gives it away that it is coordinated, it all comes back to same message — that a leadership contest is in no one's interest right now," he told Insider.

"You can spot it a mile off because we are used to canvassing people — we know when we are being canvassed."

Insider contacted Downing Street for comment but had not heard back by the time of publication.