Boris Johnson urged to hold own confidence vote as more MPs join calls for resignation

Calls from Tory MPs for Boris Johnson to resign are slowly growing as another urged him to quit after being fined by police for breaking his own coronavirus laws.

Senior former minister Tobias Ellwood joined Nigel Mills MP in urging the prime minister to step down, after the latter confirmed he would be submitting a letter of no confidence in the PM.

Mr Ellwood said the war in Ukraine should not be a reason to keep Mr Johnson in post because "our formidable government apparatus, our well-oiled MoD machine" allows the UK to "replace people if that is required".

He said the prime minister should hold a vote of confidence in himself if his fine for breaching Covid rules sees the Conservatives perform badly at the local elections in a month's time.

The MP for Bournemouth East told the BBC that Russian President Vladimir Putin could "exploit" the prime minister's reputation as a law-breaker, adding that the UK should be a "beacon of democracy, an exemplar on the world stage".

Is Boris Johnson confident he will get through this? Robert Peston breaks it down

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood wants Boris Johnson to quit. Credit: ITV News

Prime Minister Johnson mostly refused to answer questions on partygate while holding a press conference in Kent on his new immigration policy, saying he would say more when the police investigation concludes.

Many have urged him to correct his claim in the Commons from December last year that no Covid rules were broken in Downing Street during the pandemic.

Mr Johnson, who claims he only inadvertently misled the Commons because he was unaware of rule breaking, told ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana that that he would "of course I will set the record straight in anyway that I can".

Mr Ellwood said it marks a "worrying turning point" to see the UK "lose sight of those high standards" when a lawmaker becomes a "law-breaker".

However, he went on, "the prime minister has made his intentions clear - he wants to stay - but this is this is bigger than the prime minister".

"It's about the reputation of the party for which all colleagues must defend, and I believe he owes it to the parliamentary party, once the reports have concluded and the local elections have allowed the public view to be factored in, to agree to hold his own vote of confidence if those elections go badly."

Conservative former cabinet minister Karen Bradley also suggested Mr Johnson should resign over the "partygate scandal".

The Staffordshire Moorlands MP said in a statement to the StokeonTrentLive website: "I will spend the next few days consulting my constituents and will decide on what action to take after listening to them.

"But I do wish to make it clear that if I had been a minister found to have broken the laws that I passed, I would be tendering my resignation now."

A justice minister resigned from government on Wednesday, citing the PM's "own conduct" during the pandemic as a the reason forcing him to quit.

David Wolfson told Mr Johnson he could not remain a member of the government due to the "scale, context and nature" of Covid-rule-breaking in Downing Street.

Lord Wolfson said he had reached the "inevitable conclusion that there was repeated rule-breaking and breach of the criminal law in Downing Street" and it was inconsistent with the rule of law for a government to be in breach of its own rules.

Former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson is the most senior member of Mr Johnson's party to call for his resignation, saying he "broke the rules he imposed on the country & lost the moral authority to lead" and "he should go".

Mr Mills told ITV News Mr Johnson was in an "untenable position" after "breaking the laws that he introduced".

Lord Wolfson's resignation heaped pressure on Dominic Raab, whose Labour shadow Steve Reed pointed out as justice secretary he is “constitutionally charged with upholding the law but is instead condoning law-breaking” by backing Mr Johnson.

What you need to know - Listen our latest podcast episode

Mr Raab described Lord Wolfson as a “world-class lawyer” whose “wisdom and intellect will be sorely missed” in government.

Mr Johnson wrote to the peer saying he was “sorry to receive” the resignation, while praising his “years of legal experience”.

The PM, who was fined along with his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, claimed he did not realise he was breaking Covid rules when attending his 56th birthday celebration on June 19, 2020, when indoor socialising was banned.

Speaking to broadcasters after being fined, Mr Johnson said: “There was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.

“And I have to say in all frankness at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.”