An MP has quit Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party to defect to the opposition, calling the minister’s behaviour “disgraceful” while a senior Tory has told Mr Johnson to resign saying: ‘In the name of God, go’.
Christian Wakeford said he was defecting to Labour because Mr Johnson’s policies were doing nothing to help the people he represents.
“My decision is about much more than your leadership and the disgraceful way you have conducted yourself in recent weeks,” Wakeford said, a reference to a growing scandal over reports of parties being held at Downing Street during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
“I can no longer support a government that has shown itself consistently out of touch with the hard working people of Bury South and the country as a whole,” Mr Wakeford added.
Mr Wakeford said the country needed a government that “upholds the highest standards of integrity and probity” but told Mr Johnson “both you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.
Meanwhile ex-Brexit minister and senior Conservative party figure David Davis said Mr Johnson should resign for the good of the country.
“I’ve spent weeks and months defending the prime minister against often angry constituents and I reminded them of his success in delivering Brexit, vaccines and many other things,” Mr Davis told parliament.
“But I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take.
“Yesterday, he did the opposite of that.
“So I will remind him of a quotation all too familiar to him … ‘you have sat there too long for the good you have done, in the name of God, go’.”
It comes as Mr Johnson fights to shore up his premiership amid a revolt by his own lawmakers who are angry over a series of lockdown parties in Downing Street.
Propelled into the top job to “get Brexit done”, Mr Johnson in 2019 won his party’s biggest majority in more than 30 years.
But he now faces calls to resign after a series of revelations about parties in the prime ministers’ home and office during COVID lockdowns.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly apologised for the parties and said that he was unaware of many of them.
However, he attended what he said he thought was a work event on May 20, 2020 which revellers had been told to “bring their own booze”.
To trigger a leadership challenge, 54 of the 360 Conservative MPs in parliament must write letters of no confidence to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee.
As many as 20 Conservative lawmakers who won their seats at the last national election in 2019 plan to submit letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson, the Telegraph reported. A handful of others have already said they had written such letters.
“Group of 2019 MPs to submit letters to try to hit threshold of 54 to trigger a contest,” BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter. “They might hit 54.”
An analysis by The Times newspaper showed that 58 Conservative lawmakers had openly criticised the prime minister.
The latest plot against Mr Johnson was cast as the “pork pie plot” because one alleged rebel lawmaker was from Melton, the home of the Melton Mowbray pork pie. Pork pie is also London slang for a lie.
Toppling Mr Johnson would leave the United Kingdom in limbo for months just as the West deals with the Ukraine crisis and the world’s fifth largest economy grapples with the inflationary wave triggered by the COVID pandemic, with UK inflation rising to the highest level in nearly 30 years.
Leading rivals within the Conservative Party include Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, 41, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 46.
Mr Johnson on Tuesday denied an accusation by his former adviser that he had lied to parliament about a lockdown party, saying nobody had warned him the “bring your own booze” gathering might contravene COVID-19 rules.
He sidestepped questions about whether he would resign if proven he misled parliament, saying only that he wanted to wait for the outcome of an internal inquiry.
Mr Johnson will address parliament on Wednesday after his Cabinet is expected to approve plans to end the recent restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in England.
Opposition leaders have accused Mr Johnson of being a serial liar and called on him to step down.
Downing Street lockdown parties – some held when ordinary people could not bid farewell in person to dying relatives – have undermined Mr Johnson’s authority.
His own former spokeswoman resigned after she was captured laughing and joking on camera about how to cast a party if asked about it by reporters.
Such was the revelry in Downing Street at one event that staff went to a nearby supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, spilled wine on carpets, and broke a swing used by the prime minister’s young son.
The Mirror said staff had even bought a wine fridge for Friday gatherings, events that were regularly observed by Johnson as he walked to his apartment in the building.
Mr Johnson has given a variety of explanations of the parties, ranging from denials that any rules were broken to expressing understanding for the public anger at apparent hypocrisy at the heart of the British state.