PM confidence vote could be ‘close’ as No 10 fails to deny second party in Downing Street flat
Another Tory MP has joined a growing number of colleagues calling for the Prime Minister to face a confidence vote, suggesting the tally may now be “close” to triggering a ballot.
Andrew Bridgen emailed his North West Leicestershire constituents on Monday to say he has resubmitted his letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson following “further revelations over the past week”, which saw the publication of the long-awaited Sue Gray partygate report.
He originally submitted a letter in January 2022 but withdrew it in March, arguing it was not appropriate to stage a confidence vote amid the fighting in Ukraine.
It comes as No 10 is under renewed pressure to reveal if Mr Johnson’s wife hosted a second lockdown party in the Downing Street flat, with more Tory MPs calling on the PM to step down.
In his email, Mr Bridgen said: “I did believe that during the initial stages of the Russia/Ukraine war that it would be wrong to have a leadership contest.
“There have, however, been further revelations over the past week and there is obviously and rightly still a lot of anger about the culture in No 10 during the lockdown period.
“I and colleagues have put in a letter of no confidence over the past few days and it may well be the numbers are close to triggering a vote of no confidence.
“This would give the parliamentary party the opportunity to register whether they believe Boris Johnson is the person to continue leading the party or not.”
Earlier, former attorney general Jeremy Wright said events in Downing Street had caused “real and lasting damage” to the Government’s authority and that he had concluded “with regret” that Mr Johnson should go.
A spokesman for Carshalton and Wallington MP Elliot Colburn, who was elected in 2019, confirmed he had submitted a letter calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership.
And a fourth Tory MP, Nickie Aiken, suggested the PM should submit himself to a confidence vote to end the “speculation” over his future.
It comes after No 10 failed to deny a report that Carrie Johnson hosted a second party in the Downing Street flat, where she and her husband live, on the day of the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday.
In the day in question, June 19 2020, Mr Johnson was also present at an impromptu gathering in the Cabinet Room, which led to him being fined by the Metropolitan Police along with his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that an unnamed aide claimed to have told Ms Gray’s investigation that they had messages showing Mrs Johnson met “several” male friends that evening, with the Prime Minister later heading up to the flat where they were gathered.
Asked about the report, a No 10 spokesman said senior civil servant Ms Gray had made clear in her terms of reference that she would look at other allegations where there were “credible” claims that rules had been breached.
The Sunday Times said the aide, who has since reportedly written to the Cabinet Secretary about the messages, told Ms Gray’s team they did not want to forward the messages to them but were prepared to show investigators in person.
But the Cabinet Office said the informant had not been willing to provide the messages or to meet in person, so their email exchange was forwarded to the police once the Operation Hillman inquiry started.
The police did not investigate the alleged evening gathering in the flat and, by the time the aide offered to share the messages with Ms Gray, the Cabinet Office said the probe had been wrapped up.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Less than a week after the release of the Gray report, this raises serious questions about whether Downing Street has been caught lying yet again and why the event has not been investigated.
“The Prime Minister must come clean with the British people.”
The Government had already been facing questions over another event in the flat later in the year, on November 13, when Mrs Johnson reportedly held the so-called “Abba party” to celebrate the departure of Dominic Cummings in the fallout from a bitter No 10 power struggle.
In her report, Ms Gray said she had only gathered “limited” evidence on the event when she had to stop due to the police investigation and that she did not consider it “appropriate or proportionate” to resume after officers concluded their inquiry.
More Tories in recent days have publicly announced that they want a confidence vote in Mr Johnson’s leadership in response to his handling of the revelations about No 10 lockdown parties.
Under party rules, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, will be obliged to order a confidence vote if 54 Tory MPs submit a letter calling for one.
More than 20 MPs have publicly said they want a vote, although it is not clear whether all of them have written to Sir Graham, while others may have put in a letter without declaring it, making the exact numbers hard to know.
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