EMBATTLED Boris Johnson is to enlist the Royal Navy to help combat migrant Channel crossings as he launches a policy blitz in a bid to cling on to his job.
Mr Johnson will also vow to turbo-charge growth across the North and Midlands when he publishes the Government’s long-awaited Levelling Up plan next week.
Yet former Cabinet ministers said the PM’s populist initiatives do not go far enough to save his skin — and by last night six Tory MPs had gone public to call for him to quit.
Government insiders believe the sight of Navy vessels patrolling will deter people-smuggling gangs from sending dinghies across the stretch.
It follows threats by Border Force officers to strike over Home Secretary Priti Patel’s “pushback” policy for migrants’ dinghies.
Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, welcomed the move to bring in the Navy which, it is hoped, will be “red meat” to voters — particularly in the Red Wall — who have long demanded it.
She said: “Everyone knows the Royal Navy rules the waves.
“This sends a clear message how serious Britain is about putting a stop to these dangerous crossings.”
Mr Johnson is also determined to sack staff who have been advising him at No10 and is said to be planning a wide-ranging clear-out following the lockdown parties.
A drinks fridge seen being delivered to Downing Street last month could become redundant following Mr Johnson’s rumoured booze ban.
And Tory chairman Oliver Dowden yesterday hinted at possible sackings as he explained that the PM, who is self-isolating after a relative caught Covid, is extremely sorry the staff shindigs took place.
He told the BBC: “I can assure you the Prime Minister is both very contrite and deeply apologetic for what happened.
“But, more importantly, he is determined to make sure that this can’t be allowed to happen and that we address the underlying culture in Downing Street.”
He went on: “There were failings. We should have done better. Much, much better.”
Many critics within his party argue that the PM should be cutting taxes and ditching expensive “Net Zero” policies in the coming weeks to promote economic growth.
‘WEEK OF MACHETES’
Former Brexit minister Lord David Frost, who quit the Government last month, warned a few new faces in Downing Street will not stop the rot.
He tweeted: “Changing the No10 team is necessary but not sufficient.
“To get through this we need: changes in machinery so good decisions are taken and actually delivered and changes in policy: eg more proportionate approaches to net zero & covid, lower taxes, a focus on growth.”
One senior Tory MP put Mr Johnson’s chances of surviving at “60-40 against”.
Referring to the proposed staff cull, he fumed: “Forget about a Night of the Long Knives — we will need a week of the machetes to get rid of all the useless people in No.10.
“The mood is really grim in the party.
“It feels like we have been machine-gunned but by our own generals rather than the enemy.
“If Boris gets booted out he will go off and make millions and be fine. It will be us who lose our jobs.”
In a new blow to the PM, former minister Tim Loughton yesterday became the sixth Tory MP to publicly call for him to quit.
Former party chairman Lord Kenneth Baker, meanwhile, said the partygate claims were “hanging around Boris’ neck” and predicted that he could be gone in months.
He said: “I think at some point this year there will be leadership election.”
Mr Johnson is not expected to be seen out in public again until Wednesday, when he will face the wrath of his MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.
He is awaiting the outcome of senior Whitehall civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the allegations that government officials broke lockdown with their Downing Street parties.
The next few weeks will be crucial for his premiership.