A former Conservative party chief whip has called on Boris Johnson to resign after the prime minister “unreservedly” apologised to the Commons for being fined by police for breaking lockdown laws.
Harper told MPs: “I regret to say that we have a prime minister who broke the laws that he told the country they had to follow, hasn’t been straight forward about it and is now going to ask the decent men and women on these benches to defend what I think is indefensible.”
Johnson replied: “I must say to my right honourable friend I know the care and the sincerity with which he weighs his words and I bitterly regret what has happened and I bitterly regret the event in Downing Street, as I have said.
“But I do believe that it is the job of this Government to get on with the priorities of the British people and that is what we are going to do.”
Former chief whip sends no confidence letter to 1922 Committee
Shortly after, Harper revealed on Twitter that he has sent a letter of no-confidence in the PM to the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives.
Harper – a former chief whip during David Cameron’s premiership – was the only MP from Conservative benches to call for Johnson to resign down during a heated session in the Commons.
The prime minister told MPs – who had returned to Westminster after the Easter recess – that he did not intentionally mislead parliament with his previous and repeated denials about lockdown-law-breaking parties.
Johnson apologised for the “mistake” that led to his £50 fine last week for his illegal birthday party in June 2020.
“Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse but purely because it explains my previous words in this House, that it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules,” Johnson told the Commons.
“I repeat, that was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly.”
‘PM is only apologising because he’s been caught’
Despite the shouts of “resign” from opposition MPs, Johnson told the Commons he feels an “even greater sense of obligation” to fulfil his duties as PM and respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The public knows the difference between truth and lying,” Ian Blackford the SNP leader at Westminster told MPs, adding the PM “is only apologising because he’s been caught”.
MPs will vote on Thursday on whether Johnson should be investigated for intentionally misleading parliament. Speaker Sir Lyndsay Hoyle has approved an application by opposition parties for a debate. Johnson though will be absent as the prime minister will be on a trip to India instead.