Top Tories Call on BoJo to Resign After Wednesday 'Partygate' Apology
06:13 GMT 13.01.2022 (Updated: 06:28 GMT 13.01.2022)
The Conservative prime minister is under pressure over a number of scandals, with the latest pertaining to allegations that "parties" with booze were held inside Downing Street in 2020, when England was under strict COVID rules.
Senior UK Conservative Party members have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson
to step down after he apologised for attending a May 2020 party held in the garden of his official residence on Downing Street during a coronavirus lockdown.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross mentioned his "difficult conversation" with Johnson following the PM's apology in the House of Commons, pledging that he would write to the 1922 Committee to register his lack of confidence in Boris Johnson.
"He is the prime minister, it is his government that put these rules in place, and he has to be held to account for his actions", Ross said.
The influential 1922 Committee, which organises Tory leadership contests, meets weekly when the Commons is sitting, may trigger a leadership challenge if 54 backbench Conservative MPs send letters to the panel. Thus far, two MPs, including Roger Gale and Douglas Ross, have publicly confirmed sending letters of no confidence in Johnson.
In an interview with the BBC, Tory backbencher William Wragg, described Johnson's position as "untenable", adding, "I don't think it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the prime minister and indeed who governs this country".
Wragg was referring to previous calls by cabinet ministers to wait for the soon-to-be-published outcome of senior civil servant Sue Gray's probe into the alleged COVID rule-breaking at Downing Street gatherings.
He was echoed by his colleague Tory Caroline Nokes, who told the UK broadcaster ITV, that the prime minister should resign now as he was "damaging the entire Conservative brand".
"Regretfully, he looks like a liability. And I think he either goes now, or he goes in three years' time at a general election", Nokes stated.
He spoke as cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab
, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, rallied to support the prime minister, with Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg asserting that those who want Johnson to resign are "people who are always unhappy".
The claims come after Johnson said in parliament on Wednesday that he wants to apologise for the May 2020 gathering in the garden of his Downing Street residence and that "there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility".
"I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things that they love, and I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not properly followed by the people who made the rules", Johnson added.
This was preceded by the London Metropolitan Police press office confirming that they were considering launching an investigation into the alleged party held at Downing Street in May 2020.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on 20 May 2020, and is in contact with the Cabinet Office", the press service told Sputnik.
The announcement followed the disclosure by ITV of an email from a top Johnson aide, Martin Reynolds, inviting more than 100 staff to a drinks event at a time when outdoor group gatherings were banned in the UK. The PM admitted he was at the gathering for 25 minutes and added he "believed implicitly that this was a work event".
23 December 2021, 05:15 GMT
Johnson is also under pressure over reports that he joined a group of about 20 civil servants and advisers for celebratory drinks during a separate Downing Street party
on 15 May 2020. The prime minister reportedly attended the gathering for around 15 minutes, remarking to an attendee that they deserved a drink for "beating back" the virus.
A poll has, meanwhile, revealed that more than half of voters in the UK believe Johnson should resign amid the "partygate" revelations that he attended the 20 May 2020 gathering.
The snap survey conducted by the polling firm YouGov showed that 56% of those interviewed think the prime minister should step down, compared to 27% who said that he should remain in office, and 17% who said they did not know.