UK’s Johnson Faces Calls to Resign From Senior Conservatives Over Lockdown Party

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
January 12, 2022 Updated: January 12, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to resign by senior Conservative politicians after he admitted attending a social gathering in the Downing Street garden during England’s first COVID-19 lockdown.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Jan. 12, Johnson said he attended a gathering in the garden for around 25 minutes to “thank groups of staff,” as he “believed implicitly that this was a work event.”

According to UK media reports, Johnson and his wife Carrie were among about 30 people who attended the event on May 20, 2020, after his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds emailed Downing Street employees inviting them to a garden party and asking them to “bring your own booze.”

At the time, England was under strict CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions banning groups from meeting socially outdoors.

Johnson apologised for attending the event, but insisted it “could be said technically to fall within the guidance.”

His press secretary later told reporters that Johnson had not been sent the invitation email from Reynolds.

Johnson fended off opposition parties’ calls for him to resign, saying that they should wait for the conclusion of an investigation being conducted by senior civil servant Sue Gray on a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall during the lockdown.

Following Johnson’s statement in Parliament, several senior Conservative politicians joined opposition parties in openly calling for him to resign as prime minister.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is the highest profile Conservative to call for the prime minister to go, saying Johnson’s position is now “no longer tenable” and “I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives.”

He told STV he had spoken to Johnson on Wednesday afternoon and explained his position to him.

Former Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw backed Ross, saying, “Given that the PM has now confirmed he attended a rule-breaking gathering, he has lost the confidence of the country.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ COVID recovery spokesman at Holyrood, Murdo Fraser, also expressed support for Ross’s position, writing on Twitter that the prime minister “has lost public trust” and should step down “in the interests of the country and the Conservative Party.”

The calls for Johnson’s resignation are not limited to the Scottish branch of the Tory party.

William Wragg, an English MP who chairs the Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee, told the BBC the prime minister’s position is “untenable,” adding that “a series of unforced errors are deeply damaging to the perception of the party.”

Sir Roger Gale, another English MP and a prominent critic of Johnson, said it is already clear that the prime minister has misled Parliament and is politically a “dead man walking.”

But Cabinet members have rallied in support of Johnson.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Johnson “has been clear that he believed he was acting in accordance with the rules at the time.”

He told the BBC, “I’m fully supportive of this prime minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Johnson “did the right thing by apologising” and “now we need to let the investigation complete its work.”

PA Media contributed to this report.