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Calls grow for no confidence vote on UK PM Boris Johnson

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Senior UK Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood says he will submit a letter of no confidence in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to stop the ‘partygate’ issue distracting the government at a time of international crisis.

Mr Johnson is facing calls to resign after weeks of a steady drip of reports alleging his aides, and he himself, had staged and attended parties in his Downing Street office and residence at a time when millions of Britons were under COVID-19 lockdowns.

Mr Ellwood, chair of parliament’s defence select committee and a former junior minister, was the latest Conservative MP to say he would submit a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

“It’s time to resolve this so the party can get back to governing and yes … I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee,” said Mr Ellwood, referring to a group that represents MPs who do not have government jobs.

A confidence vote can be triggered if 15 per cent of the 359 Conservative members of parliament write letters demanding one to the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Mr Ellwood said the scandals were distracting from Britain’s response to major issues such as the crisis in Ukraine.

“I believe it’s time for the prime minister to take a grip of this. He himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be actually submitted,” Mr Ellwood told Sky News.

“This is just horrible for all MPs to continuously have to defend this to the British public … And the question now is for all of us, is the prime minister, the best person to lead the party moving forward?”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson will try to move on from the scandal on Wednesday by setting out a plan to “level up” Britain – one of the big policy pledges that made him prime minister in 2019.

His government said it had identified 12 missions to shift focus and resources to Britain’s “forgotten” communities by 2030, including what it said was the biggest shift of power from London to local leaders in modern times.

Other targets include bringing local public transport closer to London’s standard, extending 5G and fibre broadband across the country and working to eliminate illiteracy and innumeracy among primary school leavers, it said.

“From day one, the defining mission of this government has been to level up this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live you have access to the same opportunities,” Mr Johnson said.

Political opponents have said the initiative is populist and lacks substance or new money, and local leaders will be looking closely at whether there is any new spending in the plan.

Lisa Nandy, the opposition Labour spokeswoman for the policy, described the new policy as “recycled pots of money”.

She said local towns will only thrive when people had enough money to spend, something that will become more difficult when taxes, energy bills and food prices rise this year.

-Reuters

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