Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Four Conservative MPs have called for Boris Johnson to resign in the aftermath of the Sue Gray report, saying they cannot reconcile themselves with his previous statements on Partygate.

The former health minister Stephen Hammond said he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the chair of the 1922 Committee after the investigation confirmed a string of lockdown-busting parties took place in Downing Street.

Two others, David Simmonds and John Baron, said they had lost confidence in Johnson. A fourth, Angela Richardson, who quit as a parliamentary private secretary earlier in the year, said she would have resigned if she had been in Johnson’s position.

Nineteen MPs have publicly called for Johnson to quit, although two more have submitted and then withdrawn letters of no confidence, and at least three others have called for Johnson to resign but said they would not submit letters.

Hammond, who has a majority of just 628 in Wimbledon, said in a statement that the conclusions of the Gray report were damning.

“I can not and will not defend the indefensible,” he said. “I am struck by a number of my colleagues who were really concerned that it’s almost impossible for the PM to say ‘I want to move on’, as we can not move on without regaining public trust and I am not sure that’s possible in the current situation.”

Hammond hinted he had already submitted his letter to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee. “All I can do as a backbencher is speak out and submit a letter. I have said for several months I have already done all I can as a backbencher. ”

Backbenchers Baron and Simmonds, who is the prime minister’s constituency neighbor in west London, said Johnson’s behavior was so egregious that the prime minister should resign.

Baron, a former shadow minister, said he did not believe Johnson was unaware of the “shameful pattern of misbehavior during the pandemic as the rest of us kept to the Covid regulations”.

“A bedrock principle of our constitution is that we can trust the responses we receive in parliament to be truthful and accurate,” Baron said in a statement.

“Parliament is the beating heart of our nation. To knowingly mislead it can not be tolerated, no matter the issue. Whether or not the prime minister is an asset to the party or the country is of less importance. ”

The MP added that the prime minister “no longer enjoys my support” – but did not say whether he had submitted a no-confidence letter, 54 of which are needed to trigger a vote on Johnson’s leadership.

Simmonds, the MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, said it had become clear that “while the government and our policies enjoy the confidence of the public, the prime minister does not”.

He added: “It is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government in ensuring that our people and country prosper.”

Richardson said in a statement that she was dismayed by the behavior uncovered in the report. “Trust has been broken and it saddens me that the culture in No 10 and the length of time the inquiry has taken has eroded trust in your political representatives. It reflects badly on all of us.

“Sue Gray reflects many people’s view when she says: ‘The senior leadership at the center, both political and official, must bear responsibility.’ I am clear that had this been a report about my leadership, I would resign. ”

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Julian Sturdy, the MP for York Outer, called for Johnson to quit on Wednesday, just hours after the report was published.

Johnson still faces an investigation by the Commons privileges committee into whether he misled parliament by denying on multiple occasions that any rules were broken in No 10.

Chris Bryant, a Labor MP who recused himself from leading the investigation, said the committee would be able to gather evidence, including from cleaners and security staff who were mentioned in the Gray report as having cleaned up wine stains or come across late-night gatherings .

No 10’s chief of staff, Steve Barclay, insisted on Thursday it was only a “small minority” of people working in the building who had broken the rules, and added Johnson was not aware of many of the more debauched details that emerged on Wednesday, including wine being spilled up walls, vomiting and a fight.

Tory MPs go to great lengths to defend Johnson over Sue Gray report – video

He said Johnson thought the leaving parties were permissible because staff were working “closely together for long hours” and that the prime minister was “going to events for a short period of time during the working day”.

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