The majority of the British public want Boris Johnson to resign, but he is refusing to do so (Picture: Getty)
Living in a democracy such as the UK, you would think it shouldn’t be too hard to remove a prime minister who breaks his own laws, appears to lie about it and then is admonished in a brutal public report for the whole world to see.
Normally any of these things would be a resigning matter. But, in a testy exchange with Sky News’ Beth Rigby, Boris Johnson made clear today that he has never considered quitting over partygate.
In fact, the PM has spent the day defending himself after the rule-breaking culture in Downing Street during lockdown was laid bare by the long-awaited Sue Gray investigation.
The explosive report gave details of gatherings where officials drank so much they were sick, sang karaoke, became involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff – all at a time when millions of people across the country were unable to see friends and family and thousands of people lay dying alone in hospital with coronavirus.
His defence has hinged on his argument that the events he attended were for ‘work’ and, aside from the birthday party which he was fined for, only breached the law after he had left or took place when he was not in the building.
But key questions remain, such as why the prime minister was allowed to say goodbye to his departing colleagues at leaving dos, when people weren’t allowed to say goodbye to their dying relatives. (Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has written to the Met Police demanding an explanation).
It’s also not clear why government spokespeople spent months saying no parties took place, even though the parties had actually taken place in the press office.
Lying to the media was a resigning matter once upon a time – but the prime minister and his allies insist it is time to move from the scandal that has plagued their party for months.
However, a new poll suggests the public aren’t quite ready to forgive and forget.
According to YouGov, 59% of people believe Mr Johnson should quit over partygate.
With no sign of that happening, many people are wondering what they can do to get rid of the prime minister.
How do you remove a prime minister?
There is not much individual voters can do to remove a prime minister.
However, Mr Johnson could still be ousted by his own party if there is enough calls for it among the MPs.
Writing to your local member of parliament could therefore be effective if you live in a Tory constituency.
Under Conservative party rules, a leadership challenge can be triggered if 15% of MPs – which in the case of the Tories is 54 , write to the chairman of the 1922 backbench committee asking for a vote of no confidence.
There have previously been protests calling for Boris Johnson to go (Picture: Getty)
Two thirds of the public think Boris Johnson lied over partygate (Picture: Getty)
The vote decides whether or not a political leader still has the support of their party.
If the political leader loses the vote, they must resign from the post, forcing a leadership election within the party.
The only other way for prime minister’s to go is if they resign themselves.
In fact, Mr Johnson’s two most immediate predecessors left their posts at the head of government through resigning.
Theresa May actually survived a no confidence vote in December 2018 – but resigned less than a year later when she failed to get her Brexit deal through parliament.
At the time she said: ‘It is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort.’
Before her, David Cameron resigned after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Due to his personal preference for remaining in the EU, he said: ‘I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.’
Will there be a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson?
When the partygate scandal first erupted, several Tories called for the PM to resign, saying their inboxes were flooded with angry emails from constituents.
However, some of his critics rolled back their position following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, including Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.
As of tonight, only one new MP has demanded his resignation since the publication of Sue Gray’s report.
Julian Sturdy said it was ‘in the public interest’ for the prime minister to go.
His intervention will make government whips nervous it could be the first of several, although it remains unclear whether enough formal letters of no confidence will be submitted to trigger a vote.
The PM reportedly apologised directly to Tory MPs and told them their work is now to regain public trust at a meeting of the 1922 backbench committee.
Sources said there were few if any dissenting voices at the meeting, but many of his critics are believed to have stayed away.
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