#AceNewsReport – Feb.06: Former minister Sir Gary Streeter became the 12th Conservative MP to openly call for Mr Johnson to resign as prime minister and the third in a day to submit a letter of no confidence.
#AceDailyNews says its like a ten-pin-bowling-alley with ministers leaving the now sinking ship with Ex-minister Gary Streeter is third Tory MP to submit letter of no confidence in single day
Independent News Reporter: Andrew Woodcock
Boris Johnson is facing a “drip drip” of letters from Tory MPs demanding his removal, amid warnings that his “dead cat” bid to divert attention from the Partygate scandal by linking Sir Keir Starmer to disgraced paedophile Jimmy Savile has backfired.
One red wall MP told The Independent that determination to oust the PM had been “hardened” by his refusal to retract a claim that Sir Keir had used his time as director of public prosecutions “failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.
The slur was also cited by Commons defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood as he became the most senior Tory to announce he had handed a no confidence letter to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries lashed out at the letter-writers for distracting attention from the launch of the government’s flagship plans for “levelling up” the UK.
“On the very day we are setting out steps to make this happen, a handful of egos want to make it all about them,” the culture secretary tweeted. “It’s selfish, doing Labour’s work and it’s really not helping their constituents.”
Some 54 letters are needed for Sir Graham to trigger a leadership vote. At least eight are known to have gone in, but other MPs are believed to have submitted them privately.
The fear among Johnson supporters is that they are being fed out gradually in order to keep outrage alive while the Metropolitan Police continue their investigation into alleged lockdown-breaching parties at No 10.
Sir Keir called on Tory MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions to “restore some dignity” to the party of Winston Churchill, which he said was now led by a man “parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists”.
But Mr Johnson refused to back down on the smear, pointing to an apology issued by Starmer in 2013 for the failings of the Crown Prosecution Service, which he led. A QC-led report found at the time that the then DPP was not involved in decisions in the Savile case.
Mr Johnson’s press secretary later denied that the PM had drawn his attack line from far-right groups on the internet, insisting that it was based solely on Starmer’s public apology.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove insisted Mr Johnson had “nothing to apologise for”.
But a string of senior Tories urged him to withdraw comments that Sir Bob Neill branded “baseless and unworthy” and ex-Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith described as a “false and baseless personal slur”.
One red wall MP told The Independent that it was now “more likely than not” that the 54-letter threshold will be reached before the Metropolitan Police conclude their criminal investigation into 12 events at No 10 and other government departments, six of which the PM is alleged to have attended.
And a lawyer MP said that the remarks were the latest in a long series of “distasteful” attacks on the legal profession by the PM.
“Colleagues are very exercised about it, but I think a lot of us are staying our hands to see the hard and fast outcomes of the police inquiry,” the MP told The Independent. “It is deeply unsatisfactory.”
Another senior Tory backbencher said: “The Savile comments have gone done very badly – no-one was impressed. So it’s not helped him. But it’s not enough on its own to make up anyone’s mind up on a letter.”
In a TV interview early on Wednesday, Mr Ellwood said that, rather than acknowledge the need for fundamental change at No 10, Mr Johnson had responded to the Sue Gray inquiry by rushing out policy announcements and lashing out at Mr Starmer.
“We’re better than this, we must seek to improve our standards and rise above where we are today,” said the former defence minister.
“I don’t think the prime minister realises how worried colleagues are in every corner of the party, backbenchers and ministers alike, that this is all only going one way and will invariably slide towards a very ugly place.” Mr Ellwood called on Mr Johnson to “take a grip” and call a vote of confidence in his own leadership rather than wait for “the inevitable 54 letters”.
Just hours later, two west country MPs moved against Mr Johnson in what some Westminster wags referred to as a “cream tea plot”.
First Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall – a member of the younger 2019 generation – handed in his letter, blasting the PM’s “actions and mistruths” and declaring: “Standards in public life matter.”
He was followed by South West Devon’s Sir Gary Streeter – a veteran of 30 years in the Commons who served in John Major’s government.
He said he could not “reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street”.
Veteran MP Sir Charles Walker, a former vice-chair of the 1922 Committee, said he would “applaud” the PM if he took the decision to stand down.
Other Tories calling for Mr Johnson to stand down include, ex-cabinet minister David Davis, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, leading Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen and veteran backbencher Sir Roger Gale.
#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Feb.06: 2022:
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