‘Gig’s Up’: Senior Tory Members Make New Calls for BoJo to Resign Over Partygate Row
05:59 GMT 22.04.2022 (Updated: 07:47 GMT 22.04.2022)
On Thursday, UK MPs backed a Labour-led motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled lawmakers about lockdown-busting Downing Street parties held in 2020 and 2021. BoJo is under pressure to resign over the Partygate scandal, which is already being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Senior UK Conservative Party figures have issued new calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson
to step down as he faces a Commons Privileges Committee inquiry into whether his earlier statements to MPs on Partygate row amounted to contempt of parliament.
Former Brexit Minister Steve Baker said that he was appalled by Johnson’s personal attitude towards a Metropolitan Police fine he has already received for breaching COVID rules during a 2020 Whitehall party, adding that the PM “now should be long gone”.
“I’ll certainly vote for this motion. But really, the Prime Minister should just know the gig’s up”, Baker added.
His views were echoed by former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt
, who wrote in an email to constituents that he found the fine issued to Johnson “shocking and disappointing”. Referring to Johnson, Hunt added that the public “will also now see the privileges committee investigate whether parliament was lied to”.
“I made it clear to the government that I would not have supported any move to delay such an investigation had we been asked to. But in the end thankfully, we were not”, the former health secretary said.
He referred to the situation earlier this week, when government whips tried to block Labour-led efforts to trigger a parliamentary inquiry into the Partygate row, but to no avail.
William Wragg, chairman of the Commons’ constitutional affairs committee, has said that he wrote a letter of no confidence in the prime minister, stressing that he cannot reconcile himself “to the prime minister's continued leadership of the UK and the Conservative Party”.
Wragg also referred to “a toxic atmosphere” in which MPs “have been working”.
“The parliamentary party bears the scars of misjudgments of leadership. There can be few colleagues on this side of the house, I would contend, who are truly enjoying being members of parliament at the moment. It is utterly depressing to be asked to defend the indefensible. Each time part of us withers,” Wragg argued.
The view was shared by Bob Neill, chairman of the justice committee in the Commons, who stopped short of calling for Johnson to go but said he was “profoundly disappointed in what happened at No 10”.
“People were badly let down, my constituents feel badly let down, I feel personally badly let down and there must be consequences that follow from that”, Neill pointed out.
The Tory MP Anthony Mangnall said that he can “forgive the prime minister for making those [Downing Street parties-related] mistakes” but that he “doesn’t forgive him for misleading the house [of commons]”.
The remarks came after lawmakers on Thursday approved a Commons Privileges Committee investigation
into whether Johnson initially lied to the parliament about breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Reacting to the vote, Johnson said that he understands “people’s feelings” about the Partygate row. He, however, defied calls to resign, saying that he “doesn’t think that is the right thing to do” and that he is “determined” to continue with the government’s agenda.
On Tuesday, the PM offered the House of Commons his "wholehearted apology" after being fined by the Metropolitan Police for taking part in a 2020 Downing Street party during the coronavirus lockdown. Johnson admitted that the Britons "had a right to expect better of their prime minister”, adding that “it did not occur” to him “then, or subsequently, that a gathering in the Cabinet room just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy could amount to a breach of the rules”.
That came after unnamed sources were quoted by The Daily Mirror and The Guardian as saying that Johnson is bracing himself for three more police fines over breaching COVID lockdown rules at parties in Downing Street over the past two years.
These social gatherings purportedly include a May 2020 summer party, a November 2020 gathering in Johnson's flat with his wife on the day of special advisor Dominic Cummings' departure
, and a leaving do for Lee Cain, a senior aide, in Number 10 a day later, according to the sources. One informant suggested that the fines could prove "fatal" for the prime minister's career.