Monday, 3 Oct 2022

Time’s up, Boris! Leading Brexiteer turns on PM and urges him to resign – backlash mounts

Boris Johnson: Thornberry demands PM offer Queen his resignation

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The MP for North West Leicestershire is the fifth politician from the prime minister’s own party to call for him to resign in the wake of revelations about parties held in Downing Street during lockdown. Mr Bridgen, writing in The Telegraph, said: “Claims by the Prime Minister that he did not know that he was attending a party seem at best misguided and at worst cynical.

“But it isn’t the hurt caused to me or my fellow Conservative MPs that is important, but rather the hurt caused to all those families who went without, whose loved ones died alone, whose funerals went unattended and whose livelihoods were lost that Mr Johnson has truly failed.

“Sadly, the Prime Minister’s position has become untenable.”

He added that there is currently a moral vacuum at the heart of the Government.

In The Telegraph op-ed published on Thursday evening, Mr Bridgen wrote: “Boris will be remembered as delivering Brexit and guiding us through a pandemic.

“His legacy shouldn’t become one mired in sleaze but rather one of knowing when the time is right to leave the stage.

“If Boris truly loves our country, our democracy and our party he should go now with some semblance of grace.”

Mr Bridgen stated that he had previously held the PM in great esteem, but also told of the hurt Mr Johnson caused in claiming he did not know he was attending a party during a time of strict lockdown.

He added: “Whilst the lie is easily bad enough to make a reasonable person question the Prime Minister’s position, the truth is at least as bad.”


He concluded by saying that he has submitted a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee.

Mr Bridgen joined Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Sir Roger Gale, Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman William Wragg and backbencher Caroline Nokes in publicly calling for the PM to resign.

The Telegraph reported that as many as 30 letters have so far been submitted. A total of 54 are needed to trigger a vote.

Mr Johnson, who won a landslide election victory in 2019, on Wednesday apologised for a “bring your own booze” gathering at No.10 during Britain’s first coronavirus lockdown. He has admitted to attending the do for 25 minutes.

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However, The Telegraph reported on Thursday that there were two further drinks parties held inside Downing Street on April 16 last year when social gatherings indoors and outdoors were limited.

According to the paper, Mr Johnson was at his Chequers country residence that day. Queen Elizabeth II, 95, bade farewell to Philip, 99, the next day.

The Telegraph said that staff went to a nearby supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, used a laptop to play music and a swing used by the prime minister’s young son was broken at the gathering.

The Prime Minister’s former Director of Communications, James Slack, apologised “unreservedly” for the Downing Street event held to mark his departure.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Slack said he wanted to “apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused”.

He added: “This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “On this individual’s last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home.”

Asked about the reports of parties the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, security minister Damian Hinds said he felt shocked.

He told Sky News: “I was shocked to read it. We will have to see what comes out further in the investigation.

“This was a particularly sombre time for our whole country.”

Members of the Government have urged the PM’s critics to wait for the findings of an official probe into alleged lockdown-busting parties before passing judgement.

Cabinet ministers defended Mr Johnson though there were late interventions from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who have both been tipped as potential successors.

Mr Sunak spent the day away from London on a visit in Devon as Mr Johnson faced a grilling at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

He tweeted on Wednesday night: “The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry”.

Ms Truss tweeted: “The Prime Minister is delivering for Britain – from Brexit to the booster programme to economic growth. I stand behind the Prime Minister 100% as he takes our country forward”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted the Cabinet was fully behind Mr Johnson.

Asked by Reuters about the delay in Ms Truss and Mr Sunak showing support, the spokesman said: “What the Prime Minister wants and expects is the Cabinet to be focused on delivering on the public’s priorities.”

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