- Four new Conservative MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson over partygate.
- Julian Sturdy, David Simmonds, Stephen Hammond and John Baron said the prime minister should quit.
- Backbenchers believe the threshold for a vote — 54 letters — could be reached imminently.
Boris Johnson is facing a renewed leadership crisis after four more Conservative MPs said they had submitted letters of no confidence following the publication of Sue Gray’s report into parties during lockdown.
The long-awaited report into so-called “partygate” set out in lurid detail rule-breaking behaviour that had taken place in Downing Street during lockdown, including alcohol-fueled parties that resulted in vomiting, fighting and broken property.
It also described disrespectful behaviour towards cleaners and security staff.
The report stopped short of blaming Johnson specifically, leaving MPs to conclude that Johnson was “safe”, but that the party would likely lose the next election.
This assessment does not mean prime minister is out of the woods.
On Wednesday evening, while the prime minister addressed the 1922 Tory backbench committee, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy announced he had submitted a no-confidence letter.
Sturdy said: “Following the publication of the full Sue Gray report, I feel it is now in the public interest for the Prime Minister to resign.”
He was followed Thursday by David Simmonds, who represents Johnson’s neighbouring constituency of Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner. John Baron was a third MP to issue a call for his resignation.
Simmonds said in a statement that “while the government and our policies enjoy the confidence of the public, the Prime Minister does not”.
He added: “Accordingly, it is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government in ensuring that our people and country prosper.”
Baron echoed these comments, saying: “I’m afraid the Prime Minister no longer enjoys my support – I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.”
In a statement published later on Thursday afternoon, Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, said: “I have said consistently throughout I cannot and will not defend the indefensible.
“I am struck by a number of my colleagues who were really concerned that it’s almost impossible for the PM to say I want to move on, as we cannot move on without regaining public trust and I am not sure that’s possible in the current situation.”
Sir Roger Gale – who had previously said it was the wrong time to change leader, citing the war in Ukraine – also called for Johnson to go in recent days.
MPs told Insider that others had submitted letters but had not gone public yet.
One said: “It’s more than three… It’s the silent majority that the PM has to worry about.”
Another said: “I am genuinely astonished it’s not reached 54 yet,” referring to the threshold required to trigger a leadership contest in the Conservative Party.
The total number of letters submitted is a secret until the threshold is reached, leading to intense speculation in Westminster about how many there are.
Earlier this week, several backbenchers told Insider they believed a vote of no confidence could be triggered as early as this week.
However, Parliament rises for recess Thursday afternoon – which could give Johnson time and space to rebuild support ahead of a vote when MPs return.