Boris Johnson must resign if he broke lockdown rules, Tory politicians warned on Tuesday as support for the Prime Minister ebbed away over new Downing Street party allegations.
A poll found that 66 per cent of voters want Mr Johnson to resign after it emerged that a Number 10 garden party had been organised in May 2020 – at the height of the first lockdown.
Prominent Conservatives said it was “appalling” and “utterly indefensible” that the event took place, while Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said Mr Johnson should quit if he broke the rules or misled Parliament.
On Tuesday, Downing Street refused to answer questions about the gathering, and Mr Johnson declined to speak publicly.
A minister sent out to answer MPs’ questions insisted Mr Johnson would not resign – but in a sign of waning support, only a handful of Tory MPs turned up to listen.
Mr Johnson is on Wednesday expected to spell out his defence of the May 20, 2020 drinks do – which he reportedly attended – at what is likely to be a packed Prime Minister’s Questions.
It comes amid a backdrop of open mutiny from scores of his own MPs, with many refusing to speak out in his defence and others voicing criticism.
Asked whether Mr Johnson had to quit if he was at the gathering, Mr Ross said: “Yes, because you cannot put in place these rules, you cannot be the head of the Government that is asking people to follow these rules and then breaking those rules yourself.”
He told Sky News: “If the Prime Minister has misled Parliament, then he must resign.”
Derek Thomas, the Conservative MP for St Ives, said: “If the inquiry or the Metropolitan Police find that the alleged activities were illegal and that the PM knew this, or was involved, then I think he should consider his position.”
Nigel Mills, the Tory MP for Amber Valley, said: “I can’t see how anybody who organised a party or willingly chose to attend one can stay in any position where they’re setting Covid policy.”
Michael Ellis, the Paymaster General, had to insist that Mr Johnson was “going nowhere” as he answered questions in the Commons.
But two opinion polls, published by Savanta ComRes and YouGov on Tuesday, suggested widespread public backing for the Prime Minister to resign.
Savanta found 66 per cent of respondents agreeing that Mr Johnson should quit, while YouGov had 56 per cent of those surveyed calling for him to go.