Which Conservatives want Boris Johnson to quit over partygate photos?

Pressure is building on Boris Johnson after ITV News released leaked photographs showing him drinking at an event he previously denied took place. Credit: PA

British politics has found itself in the unprecedented situation of having a prime minister who has been fined by police for breaking the laws he made, but is so far showing no sign of bowing to building pressure for his resignation.

First there was a video, released by ITV News, showing some of his most senior staff laughing and joking about attending a Christmas party. Boris Johnson apologised, said he was "furious" and ordered an inquiry.

The inquiry concluded and the civil servant who ran it, Sue Gray, condemned a "failure of leadership" in Downing Street during the pandemic - but she was prevented from sharing all her findings because she'd uncovered evidence of criminality and the Metropolitan Police was forced to investigate.

Mr Johnson emerged from the police investigation with one fine - despite several commentators believing he'd receive several - and that was viewed by many as a momentary win for the PM.

This photo, released by ITV News, of Boris Johnson drinking during lockdown has sparked fury. Credit: ITV News

Critical Tory MPs rounded on the prime minister after the leaked video was released and speculation was rife that a vote of no confidence was very close.

A number of those who had previously called for the PM to resign, however, changed their minds after it became clear he would not be fined again.

For many MPs it was always about whether he'd lied to Parliament with his denials of rule-breaking and apparently enough had decided that if any misleading had been done, it was not intentional.

But now Mr Johnson is facing fresh allegations of lying after ITV News released leaked photos, showing the PM drinking at a gathering which he had previously said did not take place.

The photos show the PM drinking with several colleagues at a leaving on November 13, 2020, when almost all socialising was banned. When he was asked on December 8 whether that gathering took place, Mr Johnson said: "No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times."

Opposition MPs say the photos leaked to ITV News prove Mr Johnson lied to Parliament.

Intentionally misleading the House would normally be a resigning matter, according to the ministerial code.

December 8, 2021: Boris Johnson denies party took place:

A Privileges Committee inquiry is set to investigate claims Mr Johnson lied to Parliament, while Sue Gray will, this week, publish her party report in full - and it is expected to be damning.

It's been reported that the number of no confidence letters submitted against Mr Johnson are now in the high forties, just short of the 54 required to trigger a vote, and one minister has told ITV News they believe more will be written this week.

So which of his MPs want the prime minister gone following the photographs' release and who is backing him?

  • Roger Gale

Veteran Tory Roger Gale, who had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister before the photos were released, has not changed his mind about Mr Johnson.

He tweeted: "I believe that the PM has misled the House of Commons from the despatch box. That is a resignation issue.

"I have made my own position clear. It is now a matter for my Conservative parliamentary colleagues to decide whether or not to instigate a vote of no confidence."

  • Mark Harper

Mark Harper, an influential backbench Tory often among MPs who rebel against the government, has also submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

He attacked the PM for "not being straight with people" as he told the BBC that the prime minister is not worthy of his office "and he should go".

Mr Harper said backbench Tories must read Sue Gray's report this week and decide whether they are prepared to "go along" with Mr Johnson's leadership, "or not".

  • Peter Aldous

Peter Aldous, who has also submitted a letter of no confidence, believes it would be "best for the country" if the PM quit.

He told GB News: “I weighed up all manner of considerations and I concluded then that it would be best for the country, and dare I say it for the Conservative Party, if he did [resign].

“And I’ve revisited that decision over the last few months, and I’ve decided that really those reasons are still there.”

  • Ruth Davidson

Former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson has repeatedly called on Mr Johnson to quit over the partygate scandal and she repeated those calls following the ITV News photos.

She told Channel 4 News: “There is now photographic evidence that when the Prime Minister stood up in Parliament and was asked directly was there a party in No 10 on this date and he replied ‘no’, he lied to Parliament. “I don’t think his job is tenable and his position is tenable. The office of Prime Minister should be above being traduced by the person who holds it.”

  • Steve Baker

Steve Baker, another influential, rebellious backbench Tory appears to not changed his mind over the PM's future.

In April he said "the prime minister now should be long gone," over the partygate scandal, adding "really, the prime minister should just know the gig’s up".

Responding to the photos, Mr Baker simply tweeted a government advert from the coronavirus pandemic, which said: “Look into her eyes and tell her you never bend the rules.”

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