Partygate: MPs demand vote on no confidence motion into ‘deceitful’ Boris Johnson
The Liberal Democrat party has tabled a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership and accused him of breaking the law and misleading parliament and the public.
It comes as the PM’s defenders call for opponents to wait for senior civil servant Sue Gray, who has been tasked with investigating the party allegations, to present her findings.
Lib Dem leader and Kingston MP Ed Davey called the prime minister “deceitful” and said: “Boris Johnson is a threat to the health of the nation.”
Backers of the motion include 18 MPs from four opposition parties, including two Labour MPs, while Tory MP Sir Mike Penning is listed as signing and then withdrawing his signature.
However, the move is different from a formal no confidence motion in the government - which has the potential to bring down the prime minister and trigger a general election.
The statement is known as an early day motion, which gives MPs the chance to express their views, without the need for a debate in the House of Commons, and has been backed by all 13 Lib Dem MPs, two Plaid Cymru MPs and Stephen Farry from Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party.
The House of Commons website describes EDMs as “motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed… very few are debated.”
It reads: “That this House has no confidence in the Prime Minister because he has broken the Covid lockdown laws his Government introduced, misled both Parliament and the public about it, and disastrously undermined public confidence in the midst of a pandemic.”
And the party has called for a vote on the issue within the next week to force the prime minister to step down, via a letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons.
The letter says it is "unacceptable” for the government to “hide behind Sue Gray’s investigation, refusing to answer questions or take responsibility”.
Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem shadow leader of the House, said: “It is completely unacceptable for the prime minister to act as if there is one rule for him and another rule for everyone else.
“It is now clear that most people have no confidence in the prime minister… it would be wrong for the government to shield the prime minister from accountability by refusing to make time for that debate.”
While leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson is a threat to the health of the nation - no one will take anything he says seriously and that is simply unacceptable during a pandemic.
“Conservative MPs should pressure Jacob Rees-Mogg to give the motion time for a vote.
“The country deserves a chance to move on from this deceitful prime minister.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also called for the prime minister’s resignation.
The Sunday Mirror reported the St Pancras and Holborn MP said: “He can no longer do his basic duties. In the public interest, he should resign.”
He also told BBC One: “I think the Prime Minister broke the law, I think he then lied about what had then happened, and this compounds the situation.”
And he told the Fabian Society conference: “This self-indulgent Tory party is having a fight about a leader who they should have known from the start is not fit for office.
“We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a prime minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead.”
But Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told Times Radio “the only mechanism for removing the Prime Minister ultimately sits in the hands of Conservative MPs”.
He said if Labour tabled a no confidence motion in the PM it would “galvanise” Tory MPs.
And he told Sky News the Tories would be “knocked out at the next election” and said: “Boris Johnson carrying on is great for the Labour Party.
“But we’re still in the middle of the national crisis here and the Prime Minister’s actions and judgements matter.
“The question now is whether [Tory MPs] have the courage to act.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, (Monday, January 17), education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the prime minister would stay in post and is “human and we make mistakes”.
He told the Today programme: "He came to the despatch box and apologised and said he will absolutely submit himself to parliament, because that’s our parliamentary democracy."
During prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons last week, Boris Johnson said: “I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months.
“I know the anguish they have been through… I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.
“There were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility… and to them and to this house I offer my heartfelt apologies.”