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BORIS JOHNSON has been accused of breaking the law with “industrial-scale partying” at Downing Street, as pressure for his resignation continued to mount at the weekend.
Repeating calls for the Prime Minister to quit, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he believed that Mr Johnson had acted unlawfully when he attended a party at No 10.
“I think the facts speak for themselves. I think the Prime Minister broke the law. I think he then lied about what had happened,” he told the BBC Sunday Morning programme.
Six Tory MPs have joined the growing calls for Mr Johnson to step down over a spate of parties, one of which he attended, held at Downing Street in breach of the coronavirus rules then in force.
However, many MPs have said that they want to read the findings of the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into what happened before making any decisions on the PM’s position. Ms Gray’s report is expected within the next fortnight.
But Sir Keir said he did not need to wait for outcome of the probe to conclude that Mr Johnson broke the rules. “We’re now a country paralysed by the weakness of the Prime Minister,” he added. “That’s why, in the national interest, he has to go.”
Pressure on the PM mounted last week after he admitted he attended a Downing Street party on May 20 2020, when the country was in lockdown at the start of the pandemic. As many as 100 people were invited.
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson told MPs that he had “believed implicitly” that the gathering was a work event, but he admitted in hindsight that he should have “sent everyone back inside.”
However, the PM had reportedly been warned to cancel the event because it would break lockdown rules. Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said that this revelation “blows the Prime Minister’s final defence out of the water.
“Now we find out he was warned these events were breaking the rules but dismissed staff as overreacting,” she said.
“There is a pattern of lying and holding the British public in contempt. He’s not fit to be Prime Minister and should resign.”
A motion of no confidence in Mr Johnson, tabled by the Liberal Democrats, has received support from 18 MPs across parties.
It states that Parliament has no confidence in him as 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.”
However, the early day motion is not expected to attract enough Tory support to force Mr Johnson’s resignation.
The PM has shown no sign of intending to step down, with reports suggesting that he is instead planning a cull of Downing Street staff to save his premiership.
Labour MP Richard Burgon accused Mr Johnson of being a “coward” in response to the plans, adding: “For once, he needs to take responsibility. And resign.”
Tory Culture Minister Oliver Dowden defended the PM yesterday, saying that it would be wrong for him to step down.
“Going through a period of divisive leadership contest … is not the sense that I get of what British people want us to be focusing on,” he claimed.
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