Several Conservative MPs are reported to have submitted letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson, with 54 needed to trigger a leadership vote within the Conservative Party.
Yesterday Mr Johnson denied he was warned prior to the May 20 event it was in breach of lockdown rules. This is disputed by former advisor Dominic Cummings.
How have Sussex’s Tory MPs reacted?
So far only Tim Loughton, East Worthing and Shoreham MP, has publicly called for the Prime Minister’s resignation.
He 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.”
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.”
What have the other Sussex Tory MPs said?
Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne
Ms Ansell said: “I have been really clear about this. Anyone who has broken any covid restrictions should face the consequences of their actions.
“People across Eastbourne and Willingdon made huge sacrifices during the lockdowns by keeping to the rules and it is only right that is acknowledged. I thank everyone for doing so. I did the same thing.
I am just as concerned as anyone to know what has happened and why. There is an investigation and I would urge it to be completed and its findings published as soon as possible.”
Sir Peter Bottomley, West Worthing
Sir Peter, Father of the House of Commons, said they had heard the PM’s apology and was awaiting the report’s chronology and conclusions.
Maria Caulfield, Lewes
Ms Caulfield, minister for patient safety and primary care, said she ‘fully appreciate[d] the depth of anger on this issue as I know many people lost loved ones, were separated from family members, and gave up so much during these times’.
In a statement on her website, she added: “It is important to know the full extent and scale of the problem and exactly who was present. We expect to receive the response to the report later this week when I will consider what action is needed going forward.”
Mims Davies, Mid Sussex
Ms Davies, the government’s employment minister, posted a statement on her website.
She said: “Firstly, I have this morning been sharing constituents’ anger with my Whip, who reports back to No.10, while in Westminster on this sitting Friday.
“Understandably, many constituents have been very greatly angered and deeply hurt by this reported ‘party’ in the garden on 20th May 2020, organised by a senior civil servant based at Number 10, plus further dates and events coming to light as reportedly occurring across Whitehall even today.
“I am also extremely dissapointed at the situation and very frustrated at the ongoing, undermining nature of these reported events and fully appreciate why people will be keen to see how on earth these shocking circumstances transpired.
“MPs heard the Prime Minister rightly and sincerely offer a heartfelt apologies to the House of Commons Chamber and the nation at PMQs. He personally took responsibility, as he has for all matters at this time of dealing with this devastating pandemic and unprecedented economic challenge.
“I do understand many people will not have been satisfied by this apology, which is why I am pleased there is a vital and wide ranging inquiry underway and there will be one into the handling of the pandemic as a whole. We must be unafraid of scrutiny and able to act when we have got matters wrong.
“This will look at all areas of this deeply damaging situation, where those working for the Government and others should have known, done better and acted better in their workplace. We must establish the full facts of what happened, why it happened and how it was at all deemed acceptable.
“I am also very sorry for the significant, emotional impact this misjudgement has had on many constituents and the extreme upset it has caused. It is very hard to see how this has brought back painful memories from the last couple of years for so many, and of the sacrifices we’ve all made.
“I would like to clarify that I was working remotely from home on 20th May 2020 and for the vast majority of the first and second lockdowns, unless it was essential for me to be in Westminster and the House of Commons, as I am a mum of two and, like many people in public service or in any role (where this was possible), who were doing the right thing, no matter how difficult the circumstances in their lives at the time.
“I believe we need to be able to hear the results of this inquiry as soon as possible, and I do understand these will be delivered very soon, before we are able to urgently focus on the important tasks the Government must address and what our constituents sent us here to deliver.”
Nus Ghani, Wealden
Ms Ghani, a former transport minister, has yet to respond.
Nick Gibb, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
Mr Gibb, a former long-time schools minister, has yet to respond.
Andrew Griffith, Arundel and South Downs
Mr Griffith, the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, said in his weekly column having lost his father to Covid in 2020 he wholly understood the ‘pain, hurt and frustration caused’ by the allegations, but added: “I won’t rush to judgement until the independent report lays out the facts which I look forward to then scrutinising closely.”
Sally-Ann Hart, Hastings and Rye
She said: “I am extremely concerned about the allegations made against the Prime Minister. Whilst they have not yet been fully verified, I met with the Chief Whip yesterday morning [12th January 2022] to highlight my concerns with him and seek clarity. I feel very strongly that, like the vast majority of my constituents, those who make the rules must adhere to them.
“The Prime Minister was right to offer an apology for the event that took place in Downing Street on May 20th 2020, and I am awaiting the conclusion of the independent inquiry led by the senior Civil Servant Susan Gray.
“I am frustrated, like many, because this Government, led by the Prime Minister, has achieved some really impressive things over the past several months.
“These include the excellent vaccine roll-out, the Prime Minister lifting the restrictions in the summer – against the backdrop of considerable targeted criticism – holding his nerve, our economy bouncing back with renewed vigour, rescuing thousands of people from Afghanistan, our New Plan for Immigration, the fantastic Holiday Activity and Food Programme which has benefited children and their families across Hastings and Rye, the Environment Act, the recruitment of more police officers, a National Skills Fund, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to name just some of them.”
Gillian Keegan, Chichester
Mrs Keegan, who is the government’s care and mental health, has yet to respond.
However in an email to a constituent, she said: “I fully understand people’s frustrations when so many of us have followed the rules and made enormous personal sacrifices throughout the pandemic. We have now heard the Prime Minister’s explanation of the circumstances, and his apology which he made in Parliament this week. In addition as the Prime Minister also outlined we await the outcome of the investigation and the detailed conclusions and recommendations.”
Huw Merriman, Bexhill and Battle
In his weekly column in the Bexhill Observer, Mr Merriman said: I” was due to deliver the media round on Wednesday to talk about the changes to Smart Motorways. The Secretary of State for Transport was not able to show due to the Prime Minister’s statement before PMQs. I therefore ended up fielding questions about parties at No10 when I really wanted to talk about these positive changes to road policy.
“I did make it clear that I expected the Prime Minister to explain exactly what he had attended in order for more clarity to be known (which he then did a few hours later). I also made it clear that those who implemented the lockdown restrictions had to lead by example and abide by them in order for others to do likewise.
“I know that many of you will feel let down, and will feel this further if the independent inquiry finds that wrong has occurred. As I stated to the media, I judge the Prime Minister on all that he does. On the pandemic, I recognise the remarkable and swift financial help for businesses, wages and the community. The vaccine rollout, and the booster follow-up this Christmas, have been world-leading.
“The Prime Minister held his nerve on Plan B measures, which I voted for, and brought in measures which did not lead to closures or family restrictions. This appears to have been a call which the public in Scotland or Wales would have preferred.
“On the minus side of the score card, I regret the impact on care homes and PPE shortage, the illogical rules on international travel and other restrictions, which I did not support due to a lack of evidence or proportionality with other public health measures, and, now, omissions over lockdown rules.
“Residents will have their own score-card, and will mark it differently. Overall, I feel that it is now right to await the official inquiry. When a leader makes an error, I tend to not only judge them in the round but also by their success in making up for it with hard work. The Prime Minister now has to do this; for me and for you as residents.”
Jeremy Quin, Horsham
Mr Quin, defence procurement minister, said: “The events in Downing Street during the lockdown have quite rightly provoked real upset and anger. The Prime Minister was absolutely right to apologise very clearly in PMQs. There is a full investigation into the allegations and I am keen for it to complete its work as soon as possible.”
Henry Smith, Crawley
Mr Smith said: “I am concerned to read reports that an event took place in Downing Street which was not work-related at a time when Crawley residents and our families were adhering to Covid-19 restrictions.
“I note that the Metropolitan Police are quoted as saying that it “is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on 20 May 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.”
“This is in addition to the investigation currently being undertaken by the senior civil servant Sue Gray, which will also include 15th May and 20th May 2020.
“What I want to see is clarity from the Government over what is reported to have taken place and a conclusion to any and all investigations as fully and as swiftly as possible.”