UK PM Boris Johnson faces more calls to quit

Damaging week of revelations had led to calls by some for the PM to resign

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Boris Johnson faced new questions over his position after a damaging week of revelations about gatherings at Downing Street while England was in lockdown.

Tobias Ellwood, a senior MP and a member of Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party, said the Prime Minister must “lead or step aside”.

“We need leadership,” he told the BBC.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said it was in the “national interest” for Mr Johnson to go, and that his rival had “lost the moral authority to lead”.

Reports of parties at the Prime Minister’s official residence in 2020 and 2021, when there were legal restrictions on gatherings, have caused outrage.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson apologised in Parliament for attending an outdoor gathering at Downing Street in May 2020. He also sent his apologies to Queen Elizabeth II for two April 2021 gatherings held at Downing Street, one of which took place a day before she buried her husband of 74 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

But on Friday, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported more gatherings were held during lockdown, and that Mr Johnson knew about them.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is leading an inquiry into the revelations, but some Conservative MPs have already broken cover and hit out at the Prime Minister.

“I don’t need to see what Sue Gray says to know that, for me, Boris Johnson has lost the moral authority to lead the country,” said Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.

“If there’s another emergency where he has to call on the public to make sacrifices, he doesn’t have that authority. That makes his position in my book, as Prime Minister, completely untenable.”

Mr Starmer said Mr Johnson was “literally in hiding at the moment and unable to lead”.

He was speaking at a conference in London led by the Fabian Society, a left-wing think tank.

“The government, the Prime Minister, were partying in Downing Street. I think that’s added to mental health stress because so many people are now asking themselves: ‘Well, why on earth did I do that then while they were doing what they were doing?’” the Labour leader said.

Mr Johnson is isolating after a close family member tested positive for Covid-19.

Updated: January 15, 2022, 1:08 PM