Sat, 20 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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Senior Conservative MPs Call For Boris Johnson To Resign Amid Partygate Chaos

3 min read

Senior Tory MPs have publicly called for Boris Johnson’s resignation following a botched attempt by Conservative whips to delay a vote on referring the Prime Minister to parliament’s privileges committee.

Influential former minister Steve Baker and William Wragg, who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, told the House of Commons on Thursday that in light of the partygate scandal, Johnson no longer has their confidence to lead the country.

They joined Mark Harper, the former whip, who on Tuesday confirmed that he had sent a letter of no confidence to Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative party's 1922 Committee, telling MPs that Johnson was "no longer worthy of the great office he holds”.

The renewed pressure on Johnson's leadership comes as MPs are expected to approve an investigation into whether the Prime Minister misled parliament over how involvement in the partygate scandal.

On Wednesday evening the government put forward an amendment to a Labour motion calling on Johnson to be investigated by the privileges committee. The amendment stipulated any vote for a probe to take place must be be delayed until the conclusion of the Met Police investigation into parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown, and after the publication of the full Sue Gray report.

However, in a dramatic U-turn on Thursday morning, dputy chief whip Chris Pincher confirmed to MPs the amendment would be scrapped and the vote would not be whipped, meaning the government would allow Conservative MPs to vote as they please. 

The government had been warned overnight by numerous Conservative MPs that they would not support its amendment. 

Speaking in the House of Commons during a debate on the motion, Baker said the Prime Minister “should know the gig is up”. He had previously been a steadfast supporter of Johnson and as recently as yesterday publicly expressed support for him. 

However, the former minister said: "I've been tempted to forgive, but I have to say now the possibility of that really has gone.

“I'm sorry but for not obeying the letter and the spirit (of the law), the Prime Minister must be long gone".

Also addressing MPs in the Commons, Wragg said: “Much as though I may have tried, I cannot reconcile myself to the Prime Minister’s continued leadership of our country and the Conservative party.”

Wragg added that although Johnson deserves “credit” for his leadership over the war in Ukraine, "the invasion of a sovereign nation by a dictatorial aggressor should not be a reason why we accept lower standards ourselves".

Publicly, 14 Conservative MPs have now confirmed they do not believe Johnson should lead the party into the next general election. Among them, 12 have said the Prime Minister should resign immediately.

Former minister Stephen Hammond, the MP for Wimbledon, today piled more pressure on Johnson's position by telling the PoliticsHome's podcast The Rundown that Conservative MPs may decide to get rid of him should the party lose the Wakefield by-election to Labour. 

A Tory party source told PoliticsHome the atmosphere in the party on Thursday afternoon was "utterly despondent".

Another described the mood as "grim" but added many in the party feel "resigned to it". 

Numerous MPs reported feeling "pissed off", with one, elected in 2017, saying: "I'm actually tempted to f*****g resign. I didn't come here to defend a f*****g party - but it's all we're being asked to do right now".


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