London – Four Tory MPs have now broken cover to call for Boris Johnson to resign since the publication of Sue Gray’s report on lockdown parties at No 10.
John Baron, David Simmonds, Stephen Hammond and Julian Sturdy have joined a list of Conservative MPs urging the prime minister to resign.
Hammond said he “cannot and will not defend the indefensible”.
Johnson has said he is “humbled” by Ms Gray’s findings, but did not lie to MPs and is not going to quit.
In a news conference on Wednesday, he said he wanted to “keep moving forward” and focus on the “people’s priorities”.
Labour’s shadow levelling-up secretary, Lisa Nandy, accused the prime minister of “passing off responsibility” for Partygate to junior staff, telling the BBC: “He’s not sorry that he did it, he’s sorry that he was caught.”
But Downing Street’s chief of staff, Stephen Barclay, said the prime minister had made a “significant change” to No. 10 by shaking up his team and apologising for the lockdown-busting events.
Johnson’s cabinet colleagues have rallied to his defence, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak telling the BBC he trusted the prime minister “100%”.
“Not only has he apologised and taken responsibility, he’s acted and learnt the lessons,” he added.
Conservative MPs can force a leadership contest if enough of them write letters of no confidence – the BBC is aware of about 18 who have done so, well short of the 54 needed.
But some may keep their letters private. Only the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, Sir Graham Brady, knows the precise number.
Baron and Simmonds went public with calls for the PM to resign on Thursday morning.
They released statements hours before Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new package of measures to help households with rising living costs.
Veteran Brexiteer Baron said “the most serious charge” against the PM was the allegation that he knowingly misled Parliament about parties in Downing Street.
“Given the scale of rule-breaking in No 10, I can not accept that the prime minister was unaware,” Mr Baron said.
“Therefore, his repeated assurances in Parliament that there was no rule-breaking is simply not credible.”
The prime minister faces an inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee about whether he lied to MPs. Under government guidelines, ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament are expected to resign. (BBC)