Tory Rank-and-File Join MPs Calling for Johnson to Quit Over ‘Partygate’ Affair

© REUTERS / PAUL CHILDSFILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Johnson walks outside Downing Street in London
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Johnson walks outside Downing Street in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
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British media are reporting that PM Boris Johnson is perilously close to being forced into a leadership contest by his backbench MPs — although only five have publicly called on him to resign over the scandal of staff parties at Number 10 during lockdown.
A survey of Conservative Party members has found more than half think Boris Johnson should resign now over the 'Partygate' row.
Grassroots Tory website Conservative Home asked its regular "panel" of party members whether BoJo should stay or go immediately amid revelations that his staff socialised in the 10 Downing Street offices and garden with wine during COVID-19 lockdowns in December 2020 and last spring.
Around 53 per cent of the more than 1,000 respondents said he should quit, 43 per cent said he should not and just under four per cent were undecided.
Website editor and former Wycombe MP Paul Goodman pointed out the result was better than the 71 per cent who said his predecessor Theresa May should resign in April 2019 — but a far cry from Johnson's 93 per cent approval rating among party members following his general election landslide victory in December that year.
The result "is a humiliating result for him, and shows a loss of confidence that may not be reversed," Goodman wrote.
May stood down just before the disastrous European Parliament elections that May that saw the Nigel Farage's six-month-old Brexit Party come first and the Tories fourth. She was succeeded by Johnson that summer.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street 10 to meet with Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, in London, Britain December 16, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
'Operation Save Big Dog': BoJo May Fire Some No 10 Officials to Avoid Quitting Over 'Partygate' Row
The survey was reflected by a YouGov poll that found that some three-quarters of Britons — including a small majority of 2019 Conservative voters — thought Johnson should go.
The pollster also pegged support for Labour at over 40 per cent, its highest since July 2018, with the Tories trailing on 29 points.
The Mail Online reported that the powerful Tory 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady was "understood" to have received "up to 30" letters from backbenchers calling for a leadership contest. The threshold for such a vote is letters from 15 per cent of sitting party MPs — currently amounting to 54.
The two favourites to succeed Johnson are Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Only five Conservative MPs have publicly called for Johnson to resign immediately over the furore.
Even junior minister Guy Opperman, who was prevented from visiting his wife in hospital by COVID-19 restrictions during the first lockdown in May 2020 when their twin sons died, said the PM should stay on.
Backbench MP Mark Jenkinson even argued that, despite the polling slump, Johnson remained more of a threat to opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer than to his own party's.
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