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PM faces new call to resign as Tory MP says his party explanations not credible

Justice Committee chairman Sir Bob Neill confirmed he had submitted a no confidence letter in Boris Johnson’s leadership.

27 May 2022

The drip-feed of no confidence letters being submitted over the Prime Minister’s leadership has continued as pressure grows on Boris Johnson following publication of the No 10 parties report.

Since senior civil servant Sue Gray published her investigation into lockdown-busting gatherings in Downing Street on Wednesday, there has been a steady trickle of Conservative MPs announcing they want a vote on Mr Johnson’s future as UK leader.

Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, added his name to that list on Friday, declaring that he did not think the Prime Minister’s explanations for attending events in No 10 were “credible”.

Posting a statement on his website, the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst said: “I have listened carefully to the explanations the Prime Minister has given, in Parliament and elsewhere, and, regrettably, do not find his assertions to be credible.

“That is why, with a heavy heart, I submitted a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady on Wednesday afternoon.”

The former minister said that a “change in leadership is required” if trust in politics was to be restored following the so-called partygate saga.

A vote on the Prime Minister’s future will be held if 54 of his MPs write to Sir Graham, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, declaring they have lost confidence in their leader.

Twenty Tories have publicly called for his resignation so far, with many critics holding back due to the war in Ukraine.

Others may have called for a no confidence vote in private, however, as Sir Graham does not publicly reveal how many letters he has received.

Sir Bob’s intervention, making him the fifth Tory MP to call for Mr Johnson to go since the full Gray report was released, comes on the same day as the Home Secretary’s assistant resigned over the “toxic culture” uncovered in No 10 by the Cabinet Office official’s inquiry.

Tory MP Paul Holmes quit as Priti Patel’s aide, saying he was “shocked and angered” by the revelations.

Mr Holmes did not, however, state whether he had submitted a letter of no confidence, instead noting that reforms to the Downing Street set-up had been introduced in the wake of the party revelations.

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