Former Conservative minister Steve Baker has called for Boris Johnson to quit for failing to obey his own Covid rules during the Partygate scandal.
“The prime minister should now be long gone,” the senior backbencher told the Commons on Thursday. “Really, the prime minister should just know the gig’s up.’”
Mr Baker, deputy leader of the Tories’ Covid Recovery Group, said he found that he could not “forgive” Mr Johnson for “not obeying the letter and spirit” of the law.
He added: “The reason that he is not long gone because removing a sitting prime minister is an extremely serious matter… I’ve been tempted to forgive. The possibility of that has gone.”
Mr Johnson faces a new investigation after the government ditched an attempt to delay a vote on a Commons probe into whether he misled parliament in a dramatic U-turn.
Tory MPs will be given a free vote on Labour’s motion seeking a Commons privilege committee investigation into claims the prime minister did not tell the truth about parties.
No 10 has conceded it may have to hand over what are thought to be damning photos of lockdown-busting parties, after it dropped a bid to block a push back a new inquiry.
The Metropolitan Police is examining more than 300 photos of the gatherings, many of which broke the law – which will be demanded by a committee of MPs now likely to launch its own probe.
Another senior Tory called on Mr Johnson to go during Thursday’s afternoon’s debate on the motion, saying he had concluded that the PM was “no longer fit to govern”.
William Wragg – who called for the PM to go earlier this year, but has been quiet since – said: “I cannot reconcile myself to the prime minister’s continued leadership of our country and the Conservative party.”
Revealing he had submitted a no-confidence letter, Mr Wragg said it was “utterly depressing to be asked to defend the indefensible” – and urged colleagues to make their minds up on Mr Johnson’s leadership.
The Tory MP added: “We must stop delegating and delaying our political judgement. We each only have our own limited and imperfect integrity. We can’t keep spending it on others who we cannot be sure will not let us down.”
Fellow Tory MP Sir Bob Neill, chair of the Commons justice committee, said he felt “personally badly led down” by Mr Johnson – but had not yet “come to a final decision about the prime minister’s position”.
Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was allowed to repeatedly call Mr Johnson “a liar” in parliament, unchallenged by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
SNP MP calls Boris Johnson ‘liar’ in Commons
“There is one thing that needs to be said… The prime minister of the United Kingdom is a liar,” said Mr Blackford. “He lied to avoid getting caught. And once he got caught, he lied again.”
It was only when Mr Blackford made a reference to Mr Johnson “lying to the Queen” that the Speaker challenged the SNP. “I’ve asked for moderate language … ‘lying to the Queen’ I’m not happy [with]. I want you to withdraw that.”
The Speaker said he wanted Mr Blackford to stick to “the terms of what we are debating” – apparently allowing claims of “liar” to be made because of the nature the discussion on whether the PM misled the House.