Partygate: The Tory MPs who have refused to back Boris Johnson to lead them into general election

Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure over Partygate, despite apologizing dozens of times in the Commons for the Covid law-breaking birthday bash which saw him fined by police.

Mark Harper became the latest Conservative MP to break ranks this week – calling for the prime minister’s resignation and accusing him of being “no longer worthy” of the office.

The Independent took a closer look at the Tory MPs who have either called on Mr Johnson to quit, or refused to back him to lead the party into the next general election.

Mark Harper, MP for Forest of Dean

The former chief whip called for the PM to go in Commons, as he also shared a letter of no-confidence he sent to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady. The committee needs 54 letters to hold a vote of no confidence in the leader. Mr Harper said: “Our party still has so much to offer our country, but sadly, not under Boris Johnson’s leadership.”

Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley

Mr Mills said Mr Johnson’s position as prime minister was “untenable” after he was fined by the Metropolitan Police for breaking his own Covid laws. He said he would be sending in a letter of no-confidence to the 1922 committee chair.

Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley

The former party whip said Mr Johnson should “do the right thing and resign” during a Facebook event after the PM was fined. But Mr Whittaker said he wo n’t be submitting a letter to the 1922 Committee – predicting that the PM would win a no-confidence vote (his removal of him would require a majority of Tory MPs, around 180, to vote against him) .

Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and the Border

The backbencher spoke out against the PM after it was fined. Although Mr Hudson said the Ukraine war meant now was not the time for a leadership contest, he called on Mr Johnson to “outline a timetable and process for an orderly transition to a leadership election as soon as the international situation permits”.

Caroline Nokes MP for Romsey and Southampton North

The ex-minister has said Mr Johnson was “damaging the entire Conservative brand” over Partygate, describing him as a “liability” as she called on him to quit. Ms Nokes has told a constituent she submitted a letter of no-confidence to the 1922 Committee “a long time ago”.

Anthony Mangnall MP for Totnes

The backbencher submitted a no-confidence letter earlier this year – saying Mr Johnson’s “actions and mistruths” were overshadowing the government’s work. Mr Mangnall told a constituent he stood by the resignation call following the PM’s police fine, according to Sky News.

Tobias Ellwood MP for Bournemouth East

The defense committee chair said it was “horrible” for Tory MPs to have to defend Partygate, and submitted a no-confidence letter earlier this year. Following the police fine, Mr Ellwood said he still believed the PM should “step back”.

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Announcing he had sent in his letter on no-confidence earlier this year, Mr Streeter said he could not “reconcile the pain and sacrifice” of the British public with “the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street”. He told a constituent he stood by the resignation call, according to Sky News.

Peter Aldous MP for Waveney

Mr Aldous said earlier this year he had submitted a letter to the 1922 Committee “after a great deal of soul-searching” – saying a new leader would be in “the best interests of the country, the government and the Conservative Party”. He reportedly told a constituent he “remained of this opinion”.

Sir Roger Gale MP for North Thanet

The veteran backbencher submitted a letter of no-confidence in mid-December. Sir Roger Gale has more recently said he believed it was the wrong time for a leadership contest – but has also said he did not think Mr Johnson would lead the party into the next election.

Andrew Bridgen MP for North West Leicestershire

The backbencher said in mid-January that he had submitted a no-confidence letter, saying he had “lost his moral authority to lead” over No 10 parties. Following the police fine Mr Bridgen said it was “not the time” to replace the PM, but also said: “This is not the end of the matter.”

Douglas Ross, MP for Moray

The Scottish leader had called on Mr Johnson to step down in mid-January, saying: “I don’t think he can continue.” But he U-turned in March – withdrawing his no-confidence letter and saying the Ukraine crisis meant it was “not the time” for leadership contests.

Following the PM’s police fine, Mr Ross again said a challenge was not right “at this time”. Asked five times on Sky News whether Mr Johnson should lead the party into the next general election, he refused to answer.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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