London: Boris Johnson has been stunned in Prime Minister’s Questions when a senior Tory and former Brexit minister David Davis told him to resign for the good of the country.
The call came as Westminster was rocked by the defection of Conservative MP Christian Wakeford who announced he was crossing the floor to join the Labour party just minutes before Johnson faced his weekly parliamentary grilling in the Commons.
Senior Tory and former Brexit minister David Davis told Johnson to resign for the good of the country.Credit:
MPs are accumulating the number of letters required to trigger a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister, with speculation the target of 54 could be reached in the next 24 to 48 hours.
On Wednesday, as headlines blared with news of newly elected MPs plotting to oust the prime minister, it fell upon party elder David Davis to deliver the brutal message to the prime minister’s face.
“I’ve spent weeks and months defending the prime minister against often angry constituents and I reminded them of his success in delivering Brexit, vaccines and many other things,” Davis told Johnson in parliament.
“But I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take,” he added, before citing a quote from Conservative lawmaker Leo Amery to then prime minister Neville Chamberlain in 1940.
“Yesterday, he did the opposite of that,” Davis said.
“So I will remind him of a quotation all too familiar to him … ‘you have sat there too long for the good you have done, in the name of God, go’.”
Johnson claimed not to know the origins of the quote.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Johnson said.
Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions.Credit:AP
Davis was a Cabinet Brexit Minister in Theresa May’s government. His resignation over the deal she put forward with the European Union was a catalyst for her downfall.
His words on Wednesday are similarly ominous for the Prime Minister who has failed to quell the mutinous mood in his party over what they say are his indefensible responses to reports of multiple parties held in Downing Street while the country was locked down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Johnson originally claimed there had been no parties held and after evidence emerged that he and his wife Carrie attended one, he said he thought it was a work event.
His former adviser, Dominic Cummings, has said the Prime Minister was personally warned that the event was a party and against the rules.
But on Tuesday Johnson denied, this, prompting Davis’ call on Wednesday.
“Nobody told me and nobody said that this was something that was against the rules,” he told Britain’s Sky News.
Tory MP defects
Wakeford’s defection was not thought to be part of the plotting to oust Johnson from Number 10.
He wore a union jack face mask and was seated directly in the range of cameras, behind Opposition Leader Keir Starmer who began the torrid sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions by “warmly welcoming” Wakeford to Labour ranks.
“The Labour party has changed, and so has the Conservative party,” Starmer told MPs.
Wakeford represents the seat of Bury South in England’s north. Bury South was Conservative-held until Tony Blair’s sweeping victory in 1997 and has been held by Labour ever since, making it one of the so-called Red Wall that fell to the Tories in Johnson’s landslide election in 2019.
It is the tenth-most marginal seat in the UK and is one that Labour would need to win back if it is to bring an end to more than a decade of Tory rule.
But Johnson brushed aside Wakeford’s defection, telling the house, “We will win again in Bury South.”
Masks are off
One of the reasons so many MPs have turned against Johnson is because of his rush to reimpose COVID restrictions, including limited vaccine passports.
In a statement delivered after Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson said he would scrap all restrictions in England, including the legal requirement to wear a face mask.
And he said that workers can return to the office immediately, lifting a work from home order.
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