BORIS Johnson was last night reeling from his most painful U-turn yet — with all sides of his party turning fire on No10.
Comparisons were drawn with last year’s debacle over free school meals pitting ministers against footie star Marcus Rashford.
It was followed by doomed attempts to save then Health Secretary Matt Hancock and dithering over lockdowns.
Mr Johnson is known for his desire not to throw colleagues to the wolves or bow to media pressure.
The PM is left with a Tory Party once again at war with itself and Labour cries of “one rule for them” starting to land a blow.
Paterson allies feel bruised No10 withdrew its support.
And serving ministers have been made to look like fools by following orders against their better judgment — none more than Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
He was out on the airwaves still defending a tawdry effort to bypass Common’s sleaze busters to save Mr Paterson while the No10 team were bunkered down plotting the about-turn yesterday morning.
The Sun can reveal the divisions have reached the core of Mr Johnson’s closest team who were deeply divided over saving Mr Paterson.
While Chief Whip Mark Spencer and some political aides convinced the PM he could get away with the stunt, spin doctors and Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfeld were begging him not to do it.
Mr Johnson, in Italy for the G20 and Glasgow for COP26, returned to a plan his Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, a close pal of Paterson, assured him was watertight. Sympathetic to the tragedy of Mr Paterson’s wife’s suicide, the PM sided with the Brexiteer, a decision he must now sorely regret.
But it is not the first time Mr Johnson has got it badly wrong when it comes to protecting allies.
He came to rue standing by controversial aide Dominic Cummings over breaking lockdown rules — only to be punished when the adviser went rogue.
Mr Cummings yesterday repeated his charge that the PM is a “broken shopping trolley” veering out of control. Sore Tory ministers and MPs might now have a little sympathy with that description.
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