Sue Gray report: Ex-minister urges fellow Tories to topple Boris Johnson or lose election

‘Are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behaviour publicly?’ Tobias Ellwood asks collegues

Tobias Ellwood says PM doesn't have his support

A former minister has urged fellow Tories to topple Boris Johnson or lose the next election, saying any other prime minister would have quit over the Partygate scandal.

Tobias Ellwood described Sue Gray’s final report as “damning”, asking his colleagues: “Are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behaviour publicly?”

The former defence minister was heckled by MPs loyal to Mr Johnson as he warned of the “erosion of trust” with the British public.

“Can he think of any other prime minister who would have allowed such a culture of indiscipline to take place under their watch? And if it did – would they not have resigned?”

Mr Ellwood warned that, unless Mr Johnson is removed, “the broad church of the Conservative party will lose the next general election”

In response, Mr Johnson insisted he retained the support of Conservative MPs, although he was speaking in front of half-empty Commons benches,

On his chances at the general election, expected in 2024, he said: “Overwhelmingly, emphatically, yes. We are going to go on and win the next general election.”

Mr Ellwood echoed Keir Starmer who also said it was up to Conservative MPs to no longer “hide in the backseat praying for a miracle”, after the Gray report.

“Or they can act to stop this out of touch, out of control prime minister from driving Britain towards disaster,” the Labour leader told the Commons.

Sir Keir argued the “values symbolised” by the famous Downing Street door “must be restored.”

Tory MPs should “tell the current inhabitant, their leader, that this has gone on too long,” the Labour leader told his opponents.

Mr Ellwood was the only Conservative to openly call for Mr Johnson to be removed, during his statement on the long-awaited 37-page report.

Its publication is expected to trigger more demands from Tory MPs for a no-confidence vote in his leadership – with 54 signatures needed to trigger the contest.

Most said they were awaiting Ms Gray’s conclusions before deciding whether to act, although much of the anger of earlier in the year has cooled as the saga has dragged on.

In his statement, the prime minister repeated his claim that he did not realise he and others were breaking the rules at the time, so did not lie to parliament.

He called on the country to “move on” from the scandal and insisted he had “learned the lesson” from the management failures in No 10, through an earlier overhaul of top staff.

Mr Johnson also suggested there is no need to release the 300+ Partygate photos seen by the Metropolitan police, because the public has already seen “a representative sample of the images”.

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