Two more Tory MPs withdraw support for Boris Johnson over damning Partygate report

Tory MPs withdraw support for PM over 'shameful pattern of misbehaviour'
Boris Johnson walks along Downing Street after the publication of the Sue Gray report

Two Conservative MPs withdrew their support for Boris Johnson on Thursday after Sue Gray's report into Covid rule breaking in Downing Street uncovered a raucous culture of drinking.

In damning statements, Billericay and Basildon MP John Baron and Ruislip and Northwood and Pinner MP David Simmonds said the Prime Minister should resign.

Mr Baron said the Sue Gray report and the Metropolitan Police investigations painted a "shameful pattern of misbehaviour" during the pandemic.

'Simply not credible'

"Those responsible for setting the rules have a special duty to adhere to them," Mr Baron said, adding he was not prepared to give Mr Johnson the "benefit of the doubt".

"For me the most serious charge against the Prime Minister is that of knowingly misleading Parliament," Mr Baron explained.

"Given the scale of rule-breaking in No 10, I can not accept that the Prime Minister was unaware.

"Therefore, his repeated assurances in Parliament that there was no rule-breaking is simply not credible. For some, this may appear a trivial point given world events.

"Yet a bedrock principle of our constitution is that we can trust the responses we receive in Parliament to be truthful and accurate. Parliament is the beating heart of our nation," he added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street

The Sue Gray report exposed the culture of drinking that led to lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister refused to resign despite accepting the "bitter and painful" conclusions of the senior official’s inquiry that revealed lurid details of partying in Government.

He said he "overwhelmingly" believes he should stay in power to tackle the nation’s challenges including the soaring costs of food and energy.

But his statement failed to satisfy some Tory backbenchers as David Simmonds added to calls for Mr Johnson to step down.

'Time for him to step down'

"I listened to what the Prime Minister had to say at Prime Minister’s Questions, his statement and the 1922 Committee yesterday following the publication of the Sue Gray report," the MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner said.

"Having reflected on what he said, and the views of the constituents and my Conservative association, it is clear that while the Government and our policies enjoy the confidence of the public, the Prime Minister does not.

"Accordingly, it is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the Government in ensuring that our people and country prosper," he added.

The Met Police's acting head Sir Stephen House could face questions over the saga when he appears before the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee on Thursday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded an explanation into the force’s decisions after Mr Johnson was fined over just one event, despite being pictured drinking at another gathering.

Mr Johnson declined to implement a booze ban in Downing Street despite Ms Gray’s findings during a period when the Prime Minister ordered the public into isolation.

She said officials drank so much they were sick, became involved in fights and abused security and cleaning staff.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference: "I understand why people are indignant and why people have been angry at what took place."

On Wednesday backbencher Julian Sturdy began the trickle of voices demanding Boris Johnson’s exit.

The Conservative MP for York Outer said the Sue Gray report showed Mr Johnson “has presided over a widespread culture of disregard for the coronavirus regulations”.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he said: “Questions are now being raised about whether the Prime Minister misled Parliament when asked about these events.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out...