Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday (31 May) denied breaching the UK government’s ministerial code of conduct as he bids to head off a growing Conservative revolt over the “Partygate” scandal.
Former Conservative leader William Hague said Johnson could face a no-confidence vote among his MPs as soon as next week, following numerous lockdown-breaching parties held in Downing Street.
Johnson became the first serving UK prime minister found to have broken the law while in office when police fined him for attending a birthday party in June 2020.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Finance Minister Rishi Sunak have refused to resign after being fined by the police for breaking lockdown rules in Downing Street in June 2020.
Although he has apologised, he has repeatedly refused to resign and doubled down on his defence in a letter to his independent adviser on ministerial interests, Christopher Geidt.
Lord Geidt issued an annual report laying out the need for Johnson to explain why he had not breached the ministerial code in light of the police fine.
Under previous governments, violations of the code were considered a resigning offence, but Johnson has already stood by others in his ministerial team found to have been in breach.
Responding to Geidt, Johnson said, “I did not breach the code”. There was “no intent to break the law”, he said, insisting he had been “fully accountable” to parliament “and rightly apologised for the mistake”.
However, dozens of Tory MPs had publicly criticised their embattled leader over the parties under his watch, which happened when the government ordered the public to respect Covid lockdowns.
Suppose 54 of them write a letter of no confidence in Johnson to a powerful backbench committee of Tory MPs. In that case, that will trigger a vote of all 359 Conservatives lawmakers on whether he should continue as leader and thereby prime minister.
Nearly 30 MPs are publicly known to have submitted such a letter, but the process is shrouded in secrecy, and the real tally is impossible to gauge.