British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced three new calls to resign from within his own Conservative Party on Wednesday, adding to the steadily growing number demanding his removal over a series of parties at Downing Street during lockdown.
Police are investigating 12 different gatherings at Downing Street and Whitehall for breaches of the government’s own COVID-19 public health laws following an internal inquiry that criticised a “serious failures of leadership”. Johnson was present at three of those events.
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The British prime minister apologised after the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray found alcohol-fuelled parties at his offices and residence while COVID-19 lockdown rules were in force.
Weeks of media revelations about the parties – including a bring your own booze event attended by Johnson – have seen Conservatives’ ratings in opinion polls slump and shaken many of his lawmakers’ faith in the leader who won them the 2019 election.
“I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street,” said Gary Streeter, member of parliament for a region in southwest England.
“I have now submitted a letter seeking a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister,” he wrote on Facebook.
Streeter’s statement took the number of those publicly declaring they have asked for a confidence vote to seven, though several more have either called for Johnson to resign or openly criticised him.
A confidence vote can be triggered if 15 percent of the 359 Conservative members of Parliament write letters demanding one to the chairman of the 1922 Committee. The number of letters currently submitted is not made public.
Johnson has so far weathered the pressure by announcing a series of policies popular with his right-leaning party and promising to reform his top team and get on with rebuilding from the pandemic.
Earlier on Wednesday, he launched his plan to address regional inequality – one of the key promises that helped him persuade millions of voters to switch their political allegiance and back his party in 2019.
Conservative lawmakers Anthony Mangnall and Tobias Ellwood earlier said separately they had submitted their letters.
“It’s time to resolve this so the party can get back to governing,” Ellwood, chair of Parliament’s defence select committee and a former junior minister, told Sky News.