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Two lawmakers from the UK’s ruling Conservative Party threw their support behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday following a damning report which detailed a series of alcohol-fueled lockdown-breaking parties at his office at 10 Downing Street.
A day after the report was published, outlining an alcoholic culture in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Tory lawmakers John Baron and David Simmonds said they could no longer support the Prime Minister.
Their voices add to a growing list of Tory lawmakers who have called on Johnson to step down over what has been dubbed “partygate”, despite repeated apologies from the prime minister.
Baron, first elected in 2001, said he was withdrawing his support because he believed Johnson had ‘knowingly’ misled Parliament – a charge the Prime Minister denies but is the subject of investigation by a parliamentary committee.
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“Given the scale of the rule breaches in Number 10, I cannot accept that the Prime Minister was unaware of them. Therefore his repeated assurances to Parliament that there was no rule breakers are simply not believable,” he said in a statement.
“Having always said that I would consider all available evidence before deciding, I fear the Prime Minister no longer enjoys my support – I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Simmonds, who was elected in 2019, said Johnson had lost the public’s trust. “As a result, it is time for him to step aside so that the new leadership can take forward the important work of government,” he said in a statement.
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More than 15 Tory lawmakers have publicly called on Johnson to step down since reports of parties breaking the lockdown began to leak steadily into the media. But Johnson refused, saying he still had work to do in government.
To trigger a vote of confidence in Johnson’s leadership, 54 Tory lawmakers in parliament must write letters asking for one from the chairman of the party’s 1922 committee.
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The letters are confidential, so the president is the only person who knows how many have been sent.
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