A FORMER Tory leader has said Boris Johnson must restore public trust if he is to retain his position.
Iain Duncan Smith said that while he believed the Prime Minister was still the right person to lead his party currently, he was on his last chance to save his career.
He also said the saga of parties across Whitehall had dented public confidence in politics in general, as well as in Mr Johnson and the Conservative party.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, the former work and pensions secretary said: “It damages, of course, the government, the governing party, us, the Prime Minister; but it also, as part of the backwash, damages the whole nature of how we conduct our politics.”
“Respect and trust you have to earn, and when you lose it, it’s a very difficult task to get it back
“That is going to be a huge task.”
Mr Duncan Smith said he was “one of those that voted against” some of the Covid regulations “because I felt they were far too onerous and tight”.
Asked if he felt Mr Johnson was the right person to restore the public’s trust, the former cabinet minister said: “Well, he has to be because he is the prime minister. He is the man that oversaw what went wrong.
“He’s the man that now has to recognise categorically, as I believe he’s beginning to do now, that these things need to be put right desperately.
“This doesn’t guarantee anything.”
He added that even if Mr Johnson faced, and won, a confidence vote it would still be damaging to him, and would create “internecine warfare” when many people were going to be struggling with the cost of living.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the Energy Secretary, said he did not think Mr Johnson would have to step down, and defended him over untrue claims he made about Sir Keir Starmer when he was director of public prosecutions.
Mr Johnson had claimed incorrectly that Mr Starmer had “failed to prosecute” notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile, which he has had to since clarify and said he did not mean he “personally” did not convict him.
Asked about whether he should have made the claims, which resulted in one of his senior aides quitting last week, Mr Kwarteng said the Prime Minister’s remarks were “perfectly reasonable”.
He said: “I think it’s entirely legitimate… it depends what the context was.
“In that context, I think it was perfectly reasonable to mention the fact that Sir Keir had apologised. “Sir Keir himself apologised on behalf of the organisation that he led about the fact that they failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.
“So the fact that he apologised suggests that he does at some level bear some responsibility.”