Partygate: Tory anger as Boris Johnson told he ‘should resign’ if he misled Parliament

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross says PM ‘cannot continue in the highest office in the land’ if he knew about the party in No 10

Downing Street, Boris Johnson

12/9/2021 1:44:00 AM

🔴 Boris Johnson was told on Wednesday he should resign if he is found to have misled Parliament over an alleged party in Downing Street last December

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross says PM ‘cannot continue in the highest office in the land’ if he knew about the party in No 10

Tory MPs erupted in anger after leaked footage emerged on Tuesday night of Number 10 aides appearing to joke about an event having taken place in contravention of Covid-19 restrictions last Christmas.Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservatives leader, said it seemed “undeniable” that “some sort of party” had occurred in Downing Street at the end of last year while London was in Tier 3.

He warned that Mr Johnson “cannot continue in the highest office in the land” if he “knew about it” but “said in Parliament there was no party”, thereby having “misled” the Commons.The Prime Minister tried to draw a line under the issue by announcing that Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, would investigate what had happened.

Mr Johnson again insisted, however, that he had been “repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid-19 rules were broken”.On Wednesday night, critics called for the probe to be widened to examine separate claims that rule-breaching parties took place in Downing Street on other dates in the autumn of 2020. headtopics.com

Mr Johnson also declared he was “sickened and furious” about the video of his former press secretary Allegra Stratton and other press aides appearing to joke about a party having taken place in December.He told MPs he apologised “unreservedly for the offence that it has caused” and “the impression that it gives”.

Later in the day, Ms Stratton said in a tearful statement outside her home that she had resigned as a senior adviser to Mr Johnson.She offered her own “profound” apology for having appeared to “make light of the rules” and said she would “regret those remarks for the rest of my days”.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a new probe into the alleged Number 10 festive gathering failed to assuage anger in many quarters of his party.Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links, the former Scottish Tory leader, characterised the move as saying “we’ll investigate what we’ve spent a week saying didn’t happen and discipline staff for rules we continue to say weren’t broken”.

She branded the approach “pathetic”, commenting on Twitter that she believed in playing with a “straight bat” and adding: “Believe me, colleagues are furious at this, too.”Meanwhile, other Tories accused the Government of trying to distract from the escalating row by bringing forward new Covid-19 restrictions. headtopics.com

William Wragg, Conservative chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, declared the measures a “diversionary tactic” that would fail to convince people.Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson attempted to hit back against the suggestion, insisting he would not take decisions on Covid-19 passports and working from home “without consulting the Cabinet”.

Lib Dem leaflet in North Shropshire mocks Conservatives Fears also rose among Tory MPs that disquiet over the alleged Downing Street party was gaining traction in North Shropshire ahead of a by-election in the seat next Thursday.Reports of the issue being raised unprompted on the doorstep were circulated, as one Conservative warned the debacle may “kill off” the party’s chances of holding the constituency.

The Lib Dems, widely considered the primary challenger, released new leaflets depicting a weeping female pensioner and a grinning Mr Johnson alongside the caption: “This Christmas, tell them [the Conservatives] the party’s over.”Wider concerns have arisen in Government that the “partygate” debacle will have the same level of “cut through” with the public as the row over former Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ visit to Barnard Castle in Spring last year. The matter was mocked by comedians Ant and Dec on prime time television on Tuesday evening, in a sign of its entry into the national conversation.

It came as two opinion polls indicated a majority of Britons thought Mr Johnson should resign.A survey by Savanta ComRes showed 54 per cent believed he should quit, while a survey by Opinium said 53 per cent thought he should go.The latter poll also showed that 63 per cent of people thought Mr Johnson was not telling the truth about the alleged party, while 12 per cent thought he was. headtopics.com

On Wednesday night, Mr Johnson came under pressure to widen the investigation he has ordered into the alleged party on December 18 2020 to also examine claims that parties took place in Downing Street against the Covid-19 rules on other dates last year, including on November 13 and November 27.

In a minor boost for the Prime Minister, the Metropolitan Police announced that officers would not “commence an investigation at this time” into the alleged December party, after an initial review of the leaked footage.

Read more: The Telegraph »

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