Boris Johnson has “made a mockery” of the sacrifices of the British public during the Covid-19 pandemic and his determination to cling to office subverts democratic norms, Ruth Davidson has said.
On Wednesday, the former leader of the Scottish Tories rejected claims that Mr Johnson should stay in post after being fined by police for attending a Downing Street party because of the war in Ukraine.
Renewing her demand for him to quit, she said it was more important to uphold the democratic values Ukraine is fighting for, such as leaders following laws they set and telling the truth to parliament.
However, she expressed sympathy with Douglas Ross, the current Scottish Tory leader, who in January took the unprecedented step of calling for Mr Johnson to resign but has since abandoned his rebellion.
Ms Davidson, who served as Scottish Tory leader for eight years, claimed Mr Ross had been left in a “terrible” position and that she knew from experience how it felt to be “dumped in it by colleagues down south”.
Mr Ross has been left in the highly uncomfortable position of defending a leader he said was unfit for office a matter of weeks ago.
On Wednesday, he claimed that Mr Johnson was a truthful man despite acknowledging that he had given an inaccurate account of events in Downing Street to MPs.
‘A resignation offence’
Ms Davidson said she respected the view of Mr Ross and others who believed it was not the right time to change prime ministers due to Russian aggression but did not agree.
“For me, to have a prime minister that’s broken the law that he set, to have presided over a culture in Number 10 where laws were repeatedly broken, and who told both the parliament and the public that no laws were broken when they were, is a resignation offence,” she said.
“When you have a conflict that is about supporting a country that is fighting for democracy and freedom, you have to uphold some of the rules of democracy. They are that the prime minister leads by example, he or she follows the rules they set and speaks to parliament in a way they know to be true.
“As somebody who, as a Conservative, believes deeply in the institutions of this country … I believe the office of the prime minister is traduced when you’ve got someone that breaks the laws they themselves have brought in.”
Asked what had upset her most about Mr Johnson’s conduct, she said it was the reaction from members of the public who had seen loved ones die alone because they followed the rules and would now “never forgive themselves”.
She added: “They feel that the Prime Minister and the culture in number 10 makes a mockery of their sacrifice.”