Boris Johnson is no longer “worthy” of being prime minister after being fined for breaking Covid laws, a senior Conservative MP has said.
The prime minister told the Commons on Tuesday it did not “occur” to him he had breached his own rules by attending a party for his birthday in June 2020.
Johnson said he apologised “unreservedly” and acknowledged the “hurt and anger” felt by voters over the partygate scandal.
But Mark Harper, a former Tory chief whip, said Johnson’s explanation was not good enough and called for him to resign.
Harper told Johnson to his face in the Commons: “I strongly support government’s actions in standing up to Putin’s aggression and helping Ukraine defend itself and our values.
“It’s exactly at time like this that our country needs a prime minister that exemplifies those values.
“I regret to say we have a prime minister who broke the laws that he told the country they had to follow and hasn’t been straightforward about it.
“And is now going to ask the decent men and women on these benches to defend what I think is indefensible.
“I am very sorry to have to say this, but I no longer think he is worthy of the great office he holds.”
Harper also tweeted the letter he has sent formally calling for a no confidence vote in the PM’s leadership.
When the partygate revelations were first reported last year, many Tory MPs went public with demands that Johnson quit.
But the ongoing war in Ukraine led some previous critics to question wether now was the right time to hold a Conservative Party leadership election.
To mount a leadership challenge, 15% of Conservative MPs have to submit a letter.
Based on the current size of the party in the Commons, this means 54 Tory MPs have to get out their pens.
The letters are secretly sent to Sir Graham Brady. The veteran Tory MP leads the body of all backbench Conservative MPs known as the 1922 committee.
MPs have been granted a vote on Thursday as to whether an investigation should be launched into whether the prime minister had misled the Commons with his previous statements.