Boris Johnson Urged to Unite Conservative Party as PM Suffers Largest Tory Revolt Over COVID Rules

© AFP 2022 / JESSICA TAYLORA handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he speaks during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on December 1, 2021
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he speaks during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on December 1, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
The British prime minister has come under fire over a number of scandals, with the latest surrounding a "boozy" Christmas party held at Number 10 Downing Street late last year, when such gatherings were strictly prohibited under the Tier 2 coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Senior Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has urged Boris Johnson to "reset" his performance in order to unite the party as the UK prime minister suffered the largest Tory rebellion of his tenure on Tuesday night.
Almost 100 Tory MPs voted against the so-called Plan B on tougher COVID rules for England this winter that include the mandatory introduction of COVID health passes for large venues in the country. Despite the opposition, the House of Commons approved the new measures, which were supported by Labour.
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, pedestrians wearing masks against coronavirus walk past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
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Speaking with Sky News, Clifton-Brown, who was among the rebels, described the Commons revolt as an indication of a "major division" within the Conservative Party.

"Now the prime minister has really got to think very carefully about how he's going to reset his performance to actually govern with a united party, because we all know what happens to disunited parties. He's got to now be in some danger and he's got to realise that, because if he doesn't realise that, then he will be in much bigger danger", Clifton-Brown said.

He added that a leadership challenge next year must be "on the cards" if the prime minister fails to change his approach.
The same tone was struck by Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, who told the BBC that the rebellion was a "cry of pain from the Conservative Party".

"This was just a bridge too far. I think they were putting a marker down. He [Johnson] is in a very, very, very difficult position. There has been a strong view within the Conservative Party that vaccine passports do not work and is not something many colleagues wanted to see introduced. This is a very, very specific line being drawn in the sand now and I think the prime minister and his team need to listen", Walker emphasised.

The rebel Tory MPs include at least 13 former Cabinet ministers and 33-year-old rookie Louie French, who has only been on the job for a month.
The lawmaker tweeted that he "fully" supports "the booster rollout [that was unveiled by Johnson on Monday] and I will get mine ASAP thanks to the efforts of the government, NHS [National Health Service], pharmacies, army, and volunteers".
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech as he visits a UK Food and Drinks market set up in Downing Street, central London on November 30, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2021
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"But, I made a clear pre-election pledge that I would not support COVID passes for our domestic economy and voted accordingly", French added.
The MP was echoed by Labour leader Keir Starmer, who dubbed the revolt "a very significant blow to the already damaged authority of the prime minister".

"It confirms that he's too weak to discharge the basic functions of government. These public health measures would not have gone through if Labour hadn't shown the leadership - that the prime minister failed to show - by voting in the public interest.That's what we did and it was because of our votes that these measures went through", Starmer asserted.

The Labour leader urged Johnson to "take a long, hard look at himself and ask himself whether he has the authority to take this country through the [coronavirus] pandemic".
The vote in the House of Commons was held as Johnson remains under pressure following reports that parties were held at Downing Street in November and December of 2020, when the country was on Tier 2 COVID lockdown and such gatherings were banned. The PM, who earlier ordered Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to open a probe into the reports, insists that no rules were broken during the parties.
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