Johnson struggles on despite growing Tory revolt over partygate

Johnson Struggles On Despite Growing Tory Revolt Over Partygate
British prime minister Boris Johnson is now believed to have been present during at least six of the lockdown-breaking gatherings being investigated by police. Photo: PA Images
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Sam Blewett, David Hughes and Geraldine Scott, PA Political Staff

British prime minister Boris Johnson was showing no sign of bowing to the growing calls from Tory MPs to resign as Downing Street is investigated by police over allegations of lockdown-breaching parties.

Three more Tory MPs withdrew their support on Wednesday, starting with senior Conservative Tobias Ellwood who said he had submitted a formal letter calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson.


Anthony Mangnall, who entered the UK parliament in 2019, followed by criticising Mr Johnson’s “actions and mistruths” as he said he had also submitted his demand to the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.

Then came long-standing MP Sir Gary Streeter, who said he had taken the same step because he “cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice” of the vast majority of the public with the “attitude and activities” of those in Downing Street.

But the Sun newspaper reported that Mr Johnson rejected calls to resign and indicated he would run again at the next general election in 2024, saying in an interview on Wednesday that he is “focussed on the next election”.


British culture secretary Nadine Dorries, who is fiercely loyal to Mr Johnson, described the rebel Tories as “selfish”, attempting to dismiss them as “a handful of egos” who “want to make it all about them”.

But the trickle of letters to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady came as reports suggested Mr Johnson attended more of the gatherings being investigated by police than previously thought.

The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Johnson was seen heading up to his Downing Street flat on the night it hosted a gathering which is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.


The prime minister is also said to have spoken at two more leaving dos at the centre of Scotland Yard inquiries.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson again refused to say whether he had been at the alleged party in his flat, telling MPs “the process must go on”.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings has accused Boris Johnson of lying (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Downing Street told reporters that Metropolitan Police officers have not yet contacted Mr Johnson about a potential police interview, but Conservative anger has grown since the publication of Sue Gray’s pared back but still damning report into partygate.

Mr Ellwood, a former minister who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, used an interview on Wednesday to publicly state he has lost confidence in Mr Johnson.

“This is just horrible for all MPs to continuously have to defend this to the British public,” he told Sky News.

“I don’t think the prime minister realises how worried colleagues are in every corner of the party, backbenchers and ministers alike, that this is all only going one way and will invariably slide towards a very ugly place.”

Mr Mangnall, who represents Totnes, joined the rebel ranks on Wednesday afternoon, tweeting: “Standards in public life matter. At this time I can no longer support the [prime minister].”

South West Devon MP Sir Gary, who first entered the Commons in 1992, said he had made his decision following Ms Gray’s initial assessment in her update published on Monday.

“I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street,” he said.

Not only do the two latest MPs to rebel both represent Devon seats, but neither are seen as being among the usual suspects who might agitate for the removal of Mr Johnson.

The acts of defiance mean 13 Conservatives have publicly called for his resignation, though more are believed to have done so privately.


A confidence vote will be triggered if Mr Brady receives 54 letters, 15 per cent of the parliamentary party, calling for a poll.

On Monday, Ms Gray revealed there were 12 events between 2020 and 2021 being investigated by police.

The senior civil servant was unable to publish her full findings due to the Met inquiry, however, Mr Johnson is now believed to have been present during at least six of the gatherings under investigation.

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