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Sue Gray report: will Boris Johnson resign over Partygate? PM on whether he should continue in role

Boris Johnson was fined by the Met Police for his part in the Parygate scandal

Boris Johnson is once again under immense pressure to resign as Prime Minister after senior civil servant Sue Gray published her highly-anticipated Partygate report.

Ms Gray’s damning inquiry concluded that “senior leadership” in Downing Street must “bear responsibility” for the illegal gatherings which had been held amid strict Covid restrictions.

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Mr Johnson has faced tough calls for his resignation as a result of the report from opposition politicians, as well as notable backbench Tory MPs.

The latest development comes after the Prime Minister was handed a fine for his role in the Partygate scandal.

It was announced that Mr Johnson, alongside his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, had been issued a fixed penalty notice after the Met Police investigated gatherings held in Downing Street and Whitehall while Covid lockdown rules were in place.

Mr Johnson became the first Prime Minister to be penalised by police for breaking the law while in power - a Change.org petition calling for him and Mr Sunak to resign is nearing 300,000 signatures.

The Met Police were known to be investigating 12 parties, with it being confirmed by Number 10 that the Prime Minister was fined for attending a gathering held on 19 June 2020 - a birthday party for Mr Johnson.

The fines were met with fury from opposition parties, with Labour, SNP and the Liberal Democrats all calling on Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak to resign.

There have been calls for Boris Johnson to resign after he became the first ever sitting Prime Minister to be penalised for breaking the law. (Credit: Getty Images)

Will Boris Johnson resign?

During a press conference following the publication of Ms Gray’s report, Mr Johnson did not bow to pressure and inisted that he would be remaining in his position.

He said: said: “I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver.

“No matter how bitter and painful that the conclusions of this may be – and they are – and no matter how humbling they are, I have got to keep forward and the Government has got to keep moving. And we are.

“We will get on and continue to do the tough things.”

After the Partygate gatherings came to light in December 2021, Mr Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that he would not be resigning at the time despite public anger.

When asked if he would resign as a result of the fine, Mr Johnson said: “I have, of course, paid the fixed-penalty notice and I apologise once again for the mistake that I made.

“And as I’ve said just now I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have, but also to tackle the problems that the country must face right now and to make sure that we get on with delivering for the people in this country. That is my priority.”

He added: “I believe that it’s my job to get on and deliver for the people this country and that’s what I’m going to do.”

If Mr Johnson does not willingly resign, Conservative MPs can force a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister to oust him as leader.

He has had robust backing from his cabinet in light of the published report, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying that the Prime Minister must now return to focusing on current affairs.

Mr Raab said: “The PM has apologised and is implementing all Sue Gray’s recommendations.

“Now we need to get on and deliver for the British people – growing our economy to tackle the cost of living, funding the NHS to clear Covid backlogs and cutting crime to make our streets safer.”

Other Tory politicians to speak out about the aftermath of the report findings includes Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

Douglas Ross has said that now is not the time for Boris Johnson to resign. (Credit: Getty Images)

Mr Ross told Sky News that he believed Mr Johnson should stay in power while the war in Ukraine was ongoing, but added that if the Committee of Privileges find that the Prime Minister did mislead Parliament over his knowledge of rule-breaking, he should step down.

Who has called on Boris Johnson to resign?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is among the prominent political figures to call on Mr Johnson to be removed from his post, urging Tory MPs to oust the leader.

He said: “Members on the opposite benches now also need to show leadership. This Prime Minister is steering the country in the wrong direction. They can hide in the backseat, eyes covered, praying for a miracle or they can act. Stop this out-of-touch, out-of-control Prime Minister from driving Britain towards disaster.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Prime Minister, time is up - resign, resign, resign before this House is forced to remove him.”

Some backbench Tory MPs have even joined the calls, with Julian Sturdy, MP for York, among those.

In a statement on twitter, he said: “While I thought it important to wait for the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police investigation and the publication of the Sue Gray report, I am now unable to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt and feel it is in the public interest for him to resign.”

His comments were echoed by Sir Roger Gale and Tobias Ellwood, the later addressing the Prime Minister directly during PMQs.

In the chamber, Mr Ellwood asked: “Can he think of any other PM who’d have allowed such a culture of indiscipline to have taken place under his watch and would they have resigned?”

A snap YouGov poll following the publication of the report showed that three out of five Brits - 59% of respondants - believed the Prime Minister should resign after the scandal. 74% of respondant say they believed that Mr Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament over clams he was not aware of any rule-breaking.

As of 31 May, it is believed that around 28 MPs had sent a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister to the 1922 Committee - 54 are needed to trigger a vote of no confidence.

Those who have spoken out publicly about the decision to send a letter include Sir Bob Neill and John Stevenson, with former Johnson ally Andrea Leadsom alluding to the fact she sent a letter.

Who was the last Prime Minister to resign?

If Mr Johnson were to resign as Prime Minister, he would certainly not be the first person to quit the role.

The last time a Prime Minister resigned from parliament was Theresa May on 24 July 2019 after she was unable to pass the Brexit Withdrawl Agreement.

Other Prime Ministers to resign in recent times include David Cameron in 2016 following the Brexit referendum and Gordon Brown in 2010 when the general election ended in a hung parliament.

Will Rishi Sunak resign?

Not only has the Prime Minister been implicated in the Partygate scandal, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also been issued a fixed notice penalty.

Mr Sunak had previously insisted that he had not broken any rules and told reporters that he did not expect to be fined if a police questionaire was issued to him.

Rishi Sunak was fined by the Met Police for his role in the partygate scandal. (Credit: Getty Images)

However, in somewhat of a perfect storm, Mr Sunak came under heavy pressure last week after his wife Akshata Murthy’s non-dom tax status and his US green card situation came to light.

Now with a Partygate fine to contend with, Mr Sunak’s position may be untenable, with political opponents and the public calling for him to quit.

However, Mr Sunak has signalled that he has no intentions to resign as Chancellor.

In a statement, he said: “I can confirm I have received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police with regards to a gathering held on June 19 in Downing Street.

“I offer an unreserved apology.

“I understand that for figures in public office, the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence. I respect the decision that has been made and have paid the fine.

“I know people sacrificed a great deal during Covid, and they will find this situation upsetting. I deeply regret the frustration and anger caused and I am sorry.

“Like the Prime Minister, I am focused on delivering for the British people at this challenging time.”