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Boris allies threaten to trigger three by-elections to damage Sunak

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Boris Johnson reportedly wanted to send this to Rishi Sunak

Allies of Boris Johnson are threatening to trigger three by-elections to damage Rishi Sunak in the wake of the former PM’s referral to the police over alleged Covid rule-breaking.

Nadine Dorries, Nigel Adams and Alok Sharma could trigger by-elections in their constituencies if they decide to step down and take up peerages in the House of Commons, which they were granted in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.

All three of them are expected to step back from the House of Commons before the next election, but this morning allies of Mr Johnson were warning that the MPs could leave their seats sooner than expected.

This would bring forward the by-elections to an earlier date.

The party is currently more than 10 percentage points behind Labour, meaning it could struggle to maintain hold of all three seats.

The three MPs were all firm supporters of Mr Johnson, staying loyal to the former PM even when other ministers resigned last year.

Speaking to the Telegraph, an ally said: “If it transpires that the Government has tried to report Boris to the police for entirely lawful activity just for political purposes then I’d expect three by-elections to take place.”

Last night it emerged that Cabinet Office civil servants had sent extracts from Mr Johnson’s official diary to the police, alleging they showed him to have broken lockdown rules while staying at his grace-and-favour mansion Chequers.

Mr Johnson’s office and allies emphatically denied any wrongdoing whatsoever, saying: “Lawyers have examined the events in question and advised that they were lawful.”

The Cabinet Office said civil servants were doing their job, as required by the Civil Service Code.

But allies of Mr Johnson have accused the Government of a witch hunt.

The former PM’s allies said last night’s news was the “final straw” for Mr Johnson, warning that supportive MPs will begin organising against Mr Sunak shortly, unless he can proveably get a grip of the Civil Service.

The Cabinet Office told the Express: “Information came to light during the process of preparing evidence for submission to the Covid Inquiry. It was identified as part of the normal disclosure review of potentially relevant documents being undertaken by the legal team for inquiry witnesses.”

“In-line with obligations in the Civil Service Code, this material has been passed to the relevant authorities and it is now a matter for them.”

Earlier today, it emerged that the official Covid inquiry has threatened the Government with legal action if it does not release Mr Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diary entries unredacted.

But the Cabinet Office has argued some of the material is “unambiguously irrelevant” to the scope of the inquiry, with Downing Street insisting that the Government is supplying “all relevant material”.

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