One of a number of Conservative MPs calling for Boris Johnson to step down has told Sky News he has “lost his moral authority to lead” amid allegations of numerous Downing Street parties during lockdown.
Andrew Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire, said the wave of accusations against the PM and his Number 10 staff have “made his position untenable”.
He claimed to have received more than 300 emails from constituents infuriated by the party allegations in one day on Friday.
“We had about 150 emails regarding the prime minister’s position. We cleared them down and responded to them all by midday, and then by 3.30pm there were another 168,” he said.
“It’s not just one mistake by Boris Johnson and those at Number 10. It’s a pattern of behaviour.
“It indicates to me that they think that they can do what they want and that’s not acceptable to me, my constituents, and I don’t think it’s acceptable behaviour for someone leading the country.
‘Do the honourable thing and call it a day’
“He needs to take responsibility and do the honourable thing and call it a day – for the country, the government and the Conservative Party.”
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Percy, who represents Brigg and Goole, said he and his constituents are “frustrated and irritated”.
“Getting drunk in the basement, I know the prime minister wasn’t there, of Downing Street, the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, clearly you should have known that’s not acceptable behaviour,” he told Sky News.
Calls for the PM’s resignation come amid new reports that around 50 Downing Street staff had “wine-time Fridays” scheduled into their e-calendars during various lockdown restrictions.
The Daily Mirror has published a photo of a £142 drinks fridge on 11 December 2020 – while London was in ‘Tier 2’ restrictions and indoor socialising was banned – that was allegedly used by staff for weekly drinks between 4pm and 7pm.
Number 10 has not denied the accusations, instead pointing to Sue Gray’s inquiry that is looking into the matter, and has been forced to apologise to Buckingham Palace over two parties held inside Number 10 on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.
Asked if Mr Johnson has the “moral compass” to resign, Mr Bridgen, an ardent Brexiteer who backed the PM for Tory leadership in 2019, suggested he does not.
“That’s the evidence I’m seeing from these revelations that are continuing to come out,” he said.
“It’s not just him, it’s the culture of those at Number 10 who appear to have been doing as they please while restricting our freedoms for a long time. That’s no way to go on.”
Although reports suggest Mr Johnson could be lifting ‘Plan B’ COVID measures at the end of this month, Mr Bridgen said that if there was “another national emergency”, Mr Johnson would not have the “moral authority” to ask the public to abide by restrictions.
‘PM has lost moral authority to lead’
“The PM has lost his moral authority to lead and it’s not going to come back anytime soon,” he said. “I don’t think the revelations are going to end.”
Mr Bridgen is one of three Conservative MPs who have publicly confirmed to have submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson to the Conservative 1922 committee.
He, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and Sir Roger Gale have all said they have written no confidence letters, but they are handed in confidentially so there is no accurate tally of how many MPs have done so.
Under Conservative rules, 54 MPs must submit no confidence letters to the committee chair Sir Graham Brady in order for a vote to be held on the PM’s leadership.
Mr Johnson would then need the support of 181 MPs to survive – giving him immunity from another leadership bid for a year.