More Tory MPs say Boris Johnson should go

Former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley is among those to criticise the prime minister

Boris Johnson promises to 'set record straight' on Partygate fine in parliament next week

More Conservative MPs have urged Boris Johnson to resign after he was fined for breaking lockdown rules at his illegal No 10 birthday party.

Former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley is among Tories to voice concerns about the PM's leadership, branding Mr Johnson's behaviour during lockdown "unforgivable".

Other MPs to call on the prime minister to quit include Penrith and the Border MP Neil Hudson, who said he "categorically will not defend the indefensible" and that "the situation is untenable".

Solicitor general Alex Chalk said he was “not prepared to defend” the prime minister and others found to have breached Covid laws at Downing Street but did not call for Johnson to go.

“There is a special duty on lawmakers and senior officials to act in a way which is beyond reproach, particularly during a pandemic when actions impact on public health,” the Cheltenham MP told the Gloucestershire Echo. “It is absolutely right that there has been a fulsome and abject apology.”

But home secretary Priti Patel finally spoke out in support of the PM, after two days in which sources indicated that she could not comment in order to avoid accusations of seeking to influence a police inquiry.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Rwanda, Ms Patel said: “The prime minister has apologised, the prime minister has paid a fine.“I’m not going to give a running commentary on this, there’s an investigation still ongoing. But I think I just come back constantly to the fact that the prime minister has given, actually, a very thorough and fulsome apology, and he should be respected for that.”

Mr Hudson, one of the wave of new Tory MPs elected across the north of England in 2019, urged the prime minister to lay out a timetable for an "orderly transition to a leadership election as soon as the international situation permits.

Mr Bradley echoed similar views, telling the Stoke on Trent Live website: "Whilst law breaking in Downing Street is unforgivable, I am very aware that Europe is in a precarious position and that we all need to act responsibly so as to not make the situation worse.

"I will spend the next few days consulting my constituents and will decide on what action to take after listening to them.

"But I do wish to make it clear that if I had been a minister found to have broken the laws that I passed, I would be tendering my resignation now."

On Thursday another senior Tory, Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons defence committee, said there should be a no confidence vote in the prime minister's leadership if the Conservatives did poorly in next month's local elections.

He told the BBC: “I think the prime minister has made his intentions clear – he wants to stay – but this is bigger than the prime minister.”

Other MPs to have openly called for the PM to quit since the fixed penalty notice landed are Nigel Mills and Craig Whittaker.

But dozens of MPs in Mr Johnson’s party have also leapt to the prime minister’s defence, posting messages of support on social media.

Mr Johnson on Thursday promised to "set the record straight" in parliament next week after refusing to answer questions from reporters about his penalty.

“You are going to have to wait until I come to parliament, when of course I will set the record straight in any way that I can," he said.

Asked if he could assure the chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was also fined, that he has “got that job for as long as he wants it”, Mr Johnson replied simply: “Yes.”

If Mr Johnson does not resign of his own accord he would have to lose a no confidence vote in his party to be ousted – and this can only be triggered by Tory MPs.

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