A trove of leaked WhatsApp messages between MPs has laid bare the scale of the turmoil engulfing the Conservative Party.
Panicking Tory MPs warned the party is on course to turn into a “skip fire” and could even “die”.
And Simon Hoare, a Conservative MP since 2015, said: “Would the last Tory MP to leave the building please turn off the lights.”
The messages, from a group of MPs and obtained by Sky News, came after Boris Johnson was referred to police by the Cabinet Office over new potential lockdown breaches.
Allies of the former prime minister declared the referral “clearly politically motivated”, sparking suggestion Tory MPs loyal to Mr Johnson could try to undermine Rishi Sunak’s government.
The leaked messages show former minister Jackie Doyle-Price asking: “Who on earth is spouting this bonkersness? Are you determined to turn our party into a skip fire?”
Other Tory MPs agreed, and Mr Hoare warned: “The nonsense, self-destroying crap has to end or our Party dies.”.
Bracknell MP James Sunderland warned that MPs briefing journalists were “helping none of us”, and long-serving MP Sir Robert Goodwill urged colleagues only to say things that “make it more likely that we will win the general election”.
Boris Johnson loyalist Andrea Jenkyns rounded on her colleagues, accusing them of hypocrisy. Ms Jenkyns said she does not like “leakers”, referring to “say things to people’s faces”.
“However, it is interesting some of those commenting were happy to speak out publicly against the Boris and Liz administrations,” she said.
She added: “So maybe less sanctimony and hypocrisy. Clearly many in the party are unhappy. But those at the top are not doing anything about this to bring people together.”
The row came as Mr Johnson was said to be considering suing the Cabinet Office for passing on extracts of his ministerial diaries over fresh potential Covid rule breaches.
According to The Times, which first reported the story, his ministerial diary revealed visits by friends to Chequers – the PM’s grace and favour residence in Buckinghamshire – during the pandemic.
Both the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police are assessing the information.
Gatherings referred to the police include around a dozen previously undisclosed gatherings at both Chequers and Downing Street, the Guardian reported.
The paper said 12 potentially illegal events formed the basis of a dossier given to the police forces last week. They reportedly include events which were not part of an earlier enquiry by the Metropolitan Police or the senior civil servant Sue Gray.