Three in five people feel that Boris Johnson should resign following the publication of findings relating to the numerous reports of parties held in breach of lockdown rules in Downing Street during the pandemic, polling has found.
Sue Gray published her long-awaited report this morning, six months after allegations of rule breaking gatherings first emerged, concluding that “the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility”.
27% of people who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 election told YouGov that the Prime Minister should resign. The snap poll carried out by the pollster this afternoon found that 74% of people thought Johnson knowingly lied about whether he breached the public health restrictions.
Three in ten (30%) of those surveyed reported that Johnson should remain in his role, rising to almost two-thirds (63%) of 2019 Conservative voters. Only 7% of people said that they think the Prime Minister will step down. 83% told researchers that Johnson would remain in office despite the report.
The report by Gray summarised findings of an investigation into 16 events in 2020 and 2021, including a “socially distanced drinks” in the No 10 garden – about which some staff “expressed concern” as to whether the event was “appropriate”.
The controversial garden party was held in May 2020, during the first lockdown of the pandemic. Martin Reynolds, Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, emailed staff inviting them to the event and advising them to “bring your own booze”.
The report today found that the then head of communications for Johnson, Lee Cain, had warned that the party would pose a “comms risk”. A special adviser also told Reynolds that it would be “helpful” if people avoided being seen “walking around with bottles of wine” as it was taking place after a press conference.
After the event, Reynolds referenced the event to a special adviser in a Whatsapp message, in which he said: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”
Gray also wrote in the report published this morning that an “excessive amount of alcohol” was consumed at an event on June 18th 2020, at which one person “was sick” and there was a “minor altercation between two other individuals”.
Johnson previously told parliament that the rules had been followed and has since been accused of misleading parliament. He told the Commons today that when he made those comments he was saying “what I believed to be true”.
Keir Starmer told Johnson that “the game is up” and urged Conservative backbenchers to remove him from office this afternoon. Tory MPs can trigger a vote of no confidence by 15% of them writing to the chair of the 1922 committee.
“[They] can hide in the back seat, 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. We waited for the Sue Gray report. The country can’t wait any longer,” the Labour leader told parliament.
“Members opposite must finally do their bit. They must tell the current inhabitant [of No 10], their leader, that this has gone on too long. The game is up. You cannot be a lawmaker and a lawbreaker.”