Tim Loughton has represented East Worthing and Shoreham since 1997 and was children’s minister during the first two years of the coalition government.
Writing on Facebook this evening, Mr Loughton said he had ‘regretfully come to the conclusion that Boris Johnson’s position is now untenable, that his resignation is the only way to bring this whole unfortunate episode to an end and I am working with colleagues to impress that view on Number 10’.
He argued it has ‘strained belief’ that these ‘ill advised events’ that took place in or around Downing Street could ‘in any way be construed as falling within the rules’ at times when most people were avoiding social gatherings during the height of lockdown.
Mr Loughton suggested this has given rise to a ‘very understandable perception that there is one rule for some and another for the rest of us’.
He acknowledged that senior civil servant Sue Gray is still carrying out an investigation, the Prime Minister has already apologised and in some cases was not actually present at the parties or events, but ‘the issue for me is not how many sausage rolls or glasses of prosecco the Prime Minister actually consumed’.
The Tory MP was most critical of the way Mr Johnson has handled the ‘mounting revelations in the last few weeks’.
He wrote: “Obfuscation, prevarication and evasion have been the order of the day when clarity, honesty and contrition was what was needed and what the British people deserve. And for that I express my own apologies to of my constituents. If certain less battle-hardened colleagues of mine think that makes me out to be a ‘lightweight’ then so be it.”
He is alluding to comments made by Jacob Rees-Mogg about Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, who earlier in the week called for Mr Johnson’s resignation.
Mr Loughton concluded: “I cannot see how the facts that will be reported by Sue Gray can possibly change the terminal damage that has tragically been done to the reputation of the Prime Minister or how there is any way back from this for him.
“It is not down to a simple Government policy change or a sacking of ministers or officials to put things right. In this case all roads lead back to Downing Street and the person whose name is on the front door.
“The longer it drags on the more potential damage will be done to the important office that he holds and by association the capacity of the Government to ensure that the country at large is following the measures that are needed to see us through the pandemic.
“As I have said it is with great regret that I have come to this conclusion and chosen to make my views public now to constituents. Whilst I was never on Boris’s leadership campaign team, he has undoubtedly achieved much during one of the most turbulent times to face any Prime Minister. He brought us out of the ‘parliamentary anarchy’ over Brexit which prevailed in 2019 and which has yet to be fully resolved.
“He has made many more right calls than wrong ones in how the Government has handled Covid and it looks as though we will soon be through this current spike in better shape than many of our European neighbours and with an economy that is the fastest growing in the G7 and beyond.
“For all these things and more we should all be grateful for the Prime Minister’s leadership. However, the longer that he resists the inevitable the more damage that will be done to his reputation and his legacy and that is why I hope this can be resolved satisfactorily by him in the next few days. If not, then I know what I need to do without anymore advice, thank you very much.”