Boris Johnson delivered a “whole-hearted apology” to the House on Tuesday for breaking COVID-19 rules following the Metropolitan Police issuing him with a fixed penalty notice. Mr Johnson referenced his apology more than 30 times and tried to convince MPs that there are bigger issues to focus on than Partygate, referencing the Ukraine crisis and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.
His apology sparked a furious reaction from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who delivered a seven-minute tirade and was reprimanded by the Speaker for calling Mr Johnson “dishonest”.
Mark Harper, a former chief whip, told Mr Johnson yesterday he was no longer “worthy” of being Prime Minister and that he had lost his support over Partygate.
He said: “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 straightforward about it and is now going to ask the decent men and women on these benches to defend what I think is indefensible.
“I’m very sorry to have to say this, but I no longer think he is worthy of the great office that he holds.”
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Mr Harper also publicly released his no-confidence letter which he sent to the 1922 Committee to trigger a leadership vote.
He wrote: “Integrity is about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”
The number of letters submitted by Tory MPs is unknown but the threshold for automatically triggering a leadership vote is 54 letters.
Mr Johnson faces a second-round of questioning from MPs later today and a Commons vote on Thursday on an investigation into whether he misled Parliament by denying parties at Downing Street took place.
A committee inquiry into Parliament being misled usually carries political jeopardy, an offence considered a resigning matter.
Despite this, Mr Johnson will still travel to India for his pandemic-delayed trip to strengthen defence and security ties with the country.
He will visit Gujarat on Thursday where he is expected to announce major investments and new collaborations between the UK and India on science, health and technology.
On Friday he will meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi to have “in-depth talks” on their “strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership”.
Ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson said: “As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together.”
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