'An Apology Is Not Taking Responsibility!' Tory MP Calls For Boris Johnson To Resign

“I don’t believe for one minute that Boris Johnson has taken responsibility for his actions."
Tory MP Craig Whittaker did not hold back on BBC Breakfast on Thursday
Tory MP Craig Whittaker did not hold back on BBC Breakfast on Thursday
BBC Breakfast

Tory MP Craig Whittaker broke ranks and called for the prime minister to resign over partygate on Thursday morning.

A former whip for the Conservative Party, Whittaker told BBC Breakfast: ″I think the prime minister should take responsibility for his actions.

“I don’t believe for one minute that Boris Johnson has taken responsibility for his actions, an apology doesn’t constitute taking responsibility and that’s why I’ve asked him to resign.”

The Tory MP for Calder Valley said he believed around a dozen of his Conservative colleagues had agreed with him in public so far – but he suspected there were more behind closed doors who wanted the prime minister to go.

Johnson has faced growing backlash after last week when the police handed him a £50 fine for attending a party for his birthday in June 2020 which broke lockdown rules.

On Tuesday, Johnson told MPs: “It did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules.

“I repeat that was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly.

“I respect the outcome of the police investigation, which is still under way, and I can only say that I will respect their decision-making and always take the appropriate steps.”

However, when asked on Thursday if there were any circumstances where he could see himself resigning, the prime minister said: “Not a lot springs to mind at the moment.”

He has also promised to fight on in the next general election, even though he could face further fixed penalty notices for attending other Downing Street lockdown gatherings.

Whittaker has been calling for Johnson to refer himself to the privileges committee since the allegations about Covid rule-breaking first emerged.

He told BBC Breakfast: “If the prime minister was found to have broken the rules, you can’t make the rules and then go and break them, so in that scenario, I believe the prime minister should resign.”

Whittaker was speaking ahead of the Commons’ vote today, where MPs will vote on the Labour motion to launch a probe into whether or not Johnson deliberately misled the house over partygate.

It comes after the prime minister repeatedly stood at the despatch box and denied breaking any lockdown rules.

The government has since put forward an amendment to this motion, calling for any vote over such probe to wait until after the police investigation has concluded and the Sue Gray report from the Cabinet Office has been released.

Tory MPs are expected to be whipped to support the amendment.

“Whatever happens today, I can rally behind both motions,” Whittaker said, pointing out that either would mean the prime minister faces an investigation by the Commons Privileges Committee.

Despite being at the centre of parliamentary furore today, Johnson has just touched down in India this morning.

He also told journalists on the plane that voters are not focused on partygate right now.

He said: “Politics has taught me one thing which is you’re better off talking and focusing on the things that matter, the things that make a real difference to the electorate and not about politicians themselves.”

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