Three UK lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party have withdrawn their support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson over a damning report detailing a series of alcohol-laden parties at the PM’s official residence.
According to the report, which was released on Wednesday, Mr Johnson actively participated in boozy get-togethers that broke COVID-19 lockdown rules.
On Thursday, barely a day after the now-published report referred to “a boozy culture” at No. 10 Downing Street during lockdowns, Conservative lawmakers, John Baron, David Simmonds and Stephen Hammond said they could no longer back the prime minister.
Their voices add to a growing number of governing party MP’s who have demanded that the PM resign over what has been dubbed ‘partygate’, despite Mr Johnson’s repeated apologies.
Mr Baron, first elected in 2001, said he was withdrawing his support because he believed Mr Johnson had “knowingly” misled parliament — a charge the prime minister denies but which is being investigated by a parliamentary committee.
“Given the scale of rule-breaking in No. 10, I cannot accept that the prime minister was unaware. Therefore his repeated assurances in parliament that there was no rule-breaking is simply not credible,” he said in a statement.
“… I’m afraid the prime minister no longer enjoys my support…”
Mr Simmonds, who was elected in 2019, said Mr Johnson had lost the confidence of the public. “Accordingly it is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government,” he said in a statement.
More than 15 Conservative MP’s have publicly called for the PM’s resignation since the reports of lockdown-breaking parties began to steadily drip into the media.
Mr Johnson has, however, refused, saying he still has work to do in government.
A recent Reuters report says in order to trigger a confidence vote in Mr Johnson’s leadership, 54 Conservative lawmakers in parliament must write letters calling for one to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee.
Former minister Hammond said he had submitted a letter.
But because the letters are confidential, the chairman is the only person who knows how many have actually been submitted.
Writing by Tony Okerafor