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By Women in Westminster

Angela Rayner Insists Boris Johnson Must Resign If He Attended "BYOB" Party

Angela Rayner Insists Boris Johnson Must Resign If He Attended 'BYOB' Party
4 min read

Labour's deputy leader has said Boris Johnson must resign if multiple claims that he attended a Downing Street garden party on 20 May are correct, as the Prime Minister prepares for arguably the most perilous day of his under-pressure leadership so far.

As Johnson prepares to be grilled by Labour leader Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Angela Rayner called his refusal to clarify whether he attended the party "despicable". 

Downing Street did not send a minister to do media interviews as usual this morning, in a sign of the scale of the crisis they face over the allegations. Rayner was therefore granted free rein to criticise the government on the scandal.

"It will come as no surprise that Sir Keir Starmer doesn't think Boris Johnson should be Prime Minister and that he would do a better job, and I think the same," Rayner told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

"But fundamentally the British public are starting to see that Boris Johnson isn't fit to be Prime Minister."

Rayner said Johnson could not wait for the verdict of an official investigation into the party, and other alleged lockdown-breaching events, being carried out by senior Whitehall figure, Sue Gray, before revealing the details of his involvement.

"He can't ask a simple question: 'Were you at this party at your residence during lockdown when people weren't able to see loved ones who were dying?'

"It's pretty despicable that he has treated the British people with contempt by not answering that question and trying to hide behind a Sue Gray's investigation," she said.

She added that Johnson would have no option but to step down as Prime Minister if it was confirmed he attended the party, which took place while lockdown rules meant individuals could meet just one person from another household outdoors.

"This allegation is very serious for the Prime Minister. It's a very simple question: 'Were you there or not?' If he was there, then his position is untenable," she said.

Johnson is under intense pressure to confirm whether he attended the lockdown-breaching event, exposed by ITV this week with a bombshell email from the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting more than 100 staff to a "bring your own booze" party.

The revelation has triggered a fresh wave of anger among Conservative MPs, with many anonymously chasisting the Prime Minister and predicting the end of his leadership.

One Tory elected in 2019 told PoliticsHome: "this looks like it could be ruin for him." Another Conservative MP said: “In the latest of these shitshows, it’s about time to change the channel."

Another backbencher stated: "Boris Johnson cannot win another general election, it's as simple as that. The public are not going to forgive this. If he was at the parties, he needs to go."

Others have gone further and challenged Johnson's position on record. Nigel Mills, the Tory MP for Amber Valley, last night said: "If the Prime Minister knowingly attended a party I cant see how he can survive having accepted resignations for far less, he accepted the resignation of his spokesperson for not attending a party."

BBC Newsnight last night reported that Tory MPs were sending letters expressing no confidence in Johnson to Graham Brady, chairman of the party's 1922 committee. "It’s ‘Goodnight Vienna," one senior Conservative MP told the programme.

"We can’t go on like this. It’s a joke. It’s a shambles. We are reaching a tipping point."

Yesterday, Johnson’s official spokesperson did not deny the Prime Minister attended the party. But they would not engage with questions on whether lockdown laws had been broken, or whether Johnson had misled the House of Commons over previous party allegations late last year.

On Monday the Metropolitan Police confirmed they were in contact with the Cabinet Office over the alleged breach of lockdown rules. Johnson's spokesperson confirmed Gray's inquiry would be "paused" if Police launch a formal investigation. 

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