Boris Johnson says he would 'of course' resign if he misled Parliament over partygate

ITV News Correspondent Romilly Weeks spoke to Tory MPs about their thoughts on the PM's leadership and reports on the long wait for Sue Gray's report

Boris Johnson has said he would "of course" resign as prime minister if he is found to have misled Parliament over partygate, but he rejected calls from Sir Keir Starmer to do so immediately.

The prime minister again refused to comment on allegations that he broke coronavirus rules, saying he's prevented from doing so because of investigations by the police and Sue Gray.

But he agreed the ministerial code does apply to him, after Keir Starmer read out the rule which states: "Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation."

Asked if that rule applies to him, Mr Johnson said: "Of course, but let me tell the House that I think he is inviting a question about an investigation which is - as you know, Mr Speaker, I cannot comment - and which he, as a lawyer, will know that I can't comment on."

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston explains what is happening with Ms Gray's inquiry and when it could be published

He confirmed he would publish Ms Gray's report in full after he receives it, with that now expected to come on Thursday at the soonest.

The House of Commons adjourned at around 16:40 after concluding its business for the day - and convention dictates the report should be published in Parliament before anywhere else, indicating the report may not be published on Wednesday.

Labour leader Sir Keir claimed it was already clear Mr Johnson had misled Parliament as he recited the PM's claim that no parties happened in Downing Street during lockdown - a statement later proven to be untrue.

He urged the prime minister to resign "now", but Mr Johnson refused as he insisted he was focused on governing the UK.

The PM, in his final attack on Sir Keir, said "he problem with the Labour Party today is he's a lawyer, not a leader".

But a furious Labour MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, told the Commons he'd "prefer to be led by a lawyer than a liar" - a remark he was told to withdraw by the Speaker.

He said: "My constituents think that he lied to this House and my constituents think that he lied to them when he was partying..."

He added: "So, I would prefer to be led by a lawyer than a liar. Will he now resign?"

Later in PMQs he told the SNP's Ian Blackford that he has "absolutely no intention of resigning".

Mr Johnson's leadership was hanging in the balance at PMQs - as he fielded questions from angry MPs, as much of the country was awaiting a report which could put a nail in the coffin of his premiership.

The hotly anticipated Sue Gray inquiry, which is expected to be released today at the earliest and tomorrow at the latest, will make clear to MPs whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament with his dubious explanation for attending a lockdown-breaking party at the height of the UK's first lockdown - for which he apologised.

An email leaked to ITV News, sent by the PM's principal private secretary, raised serious questions about Mr Johnson's excuse, given it invited more than 100 staff to "make the most of the lovely weather" by attending "socially distanced drinks" in the Number 10 garden.

Many backbench Tories have been reserving judgement on the PM, giving his claim he believed he was attending a work the benefit of the doubt.

Even more allegations of rule breaking have surfaced since Mr Johnson's apology, the most recent - that he had a birthday bash with cake during lockdown in June 2020 - revealed by ITV News.

If Ms Gray concludes that Mr Johnson knowingly broke the rules, it would mean he knowingly misled Parliament - an offence that the ministerial code says must be followed by a resignation.

If he clings on to power it is likely many more Tories will join the estimated 20 who are thought to have already submitted letters of no confidence in the PM's leadership.

It takes 54 to trigger a vote of no confidence - if he wins that with more than 50% of Tory votes he will be immune for further attempts to remove for another year, if he loses a leadership election will follow.

Many in Westminster, however, believe the Gray report is no longer relevant, given the Metropolitan Police has launched its own investigation into a "number of events" which took place during the pandemic. It is not yet clear how long that inquiry could take to conclude.