ECONOMY

Boris Johnson told to ‘lead or step aside’ as more partygate claims surface


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oris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to get a grip on the drip feed of revelations about No 10 rule-breaking as he fights to stay in office.

Former Conservative minister Tobias Ellwood said the Prime Minister must “lead or step aside”, telling the BBC: “We need leadership.”

The comments by the chairman of the Commons Defence Committee came as further claims emerged of regular “wine time Friday” gatherings in Downing Street while coronavirus rules were in place.

The Mirror said the weekly events are a long-standing No 10 tradition, including under previous administrations, and they continued after Covid restrictions were introduced prohibiting indoor mixing between households.

The newspaper said staff bought a £142 fridge to keep their bottles of alcohol chilled, and the Prime Minister was aware of the socialising.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time.

“The findings will be made public in due course.”

Ministers have called on disgruntled Tory MPs to wait until senior civil servant Sue Gray has published her investigation into claims about lockdown-busting parties in Government.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood (Yui Mok/PA) / PA Archive

But backbencher Andrew Bridgen said he did “not need to see what Sue Gray says to know that, for me, Boris Johnson has lost the moral authority to lead the country”.

The North West Leicestershire MP confirmed he submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership “some time ago”.

Only a handful of Tories have publicly declared they have submitted letters to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, but the Telegraph said sources estimated about 20 might have been handed in – although that is well short of the 54 needed to trigger a leadership vote.

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