Downing Street Covid party: Douglas Ross demands Boris Johnson resign if he lied over lockdown party as Tory fury grows
Douglas Ross has demanded Boris Johnson resign if he lied over the lockdown party held at Downing Street as fury grew among Tory backbenchers.
The Scottish Conservative leader claimed the Prime Minister didn’t need to wait for an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray to answer whether he was at a garden party in Number 10 on May 20, 2020.
It came after ITV revealed Mr Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds had invited around 100 employees to a “bring your own booze” event.
Tory MPs were furious over the allegations on Tuesday, with one telling The Scotsman “if he went, he’s f****d”.
Mr Ross said: “If he has breached his own guidance, if he has not been truthful, then that is an extremely important issue.
"As I've said previously, if the Prime Minister has misled Parliament then he must resign.
"People are furious, I'm furious. People across Scotland and across the United Kingdom are furious.
"This email went out to about 100 people inviting them to a party when no-one else was allowed to do that. In fact, the Government guidance was very clear in England that you could only meet up with one other person from another household.
"I can understand the fury, the anger and the rage."
Both the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie are understood to have attended the party, but Downing Street are refusing to comment on the claims.
Mr Johnson went as far as sending his Paymaster General Michael Ellis on Tuesday to answer Labour's urgent question on the issue, rather than explaining himself.
Mr Ross said: "So it's not pre-judging Sue Gray 's inquiry to tell the public for the Prime Minister to come forward and say if he was at the party or not.
"That's a crucial question that won't in any way undermine Sue Gray's investigation.
"It will let the public know right now if he was there or not. It's a crucial question that shouldn't have to wait to Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow.
"We should hear the answer right now."
Conservative MPs were refusing to support the Prime Minister on Tuesday, with less Tory MPs in the chamber during Labour’s urgent question than there were attendees at the garden party.
One said: “This is as damaging as it gets in my opinion.
“No spinning this one, and waiting for Sue Gray only delays things. If he went, he’s f****d.
“The line that it won’t change people's minds is for the birds, but the last defence No 10 have.”
Former Scottish Tories leader, Baroness Ruth Davidson, was also critical of Mr Johnson, saying the public were rightly furious after more evidence of alleged rule-breaking by Downing Street.
She said: “Nobody needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy shindig in their own garden. People are (rightly) furious. They sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals.
“What tf (the f***) were any of these people thinking?”
Some Tory MPs, however, were more optimistic, claiming they were “no more annoyed” than they were before.
One told The Scotsman: “I’m not sure the new stuff changes anybody’s mind. It feels like you either care a lot or not much more as a result of this.
"It’s a horrific mess of Martin’s making in this case.”
The scandal saw two damning new polls emerge on Tuesday showing an overwhelming majority of people across the UK believe the Prime Minister should resign.
A YouGov/Sky News poll found that, excluding 'don't knows', 67 per cent of people across the UK believe Mr Johnson should resign.
In Scotland, the number of people that think Mr Johnson should resign rises to 79 per cent.
A separate Savanta ComRes survey revealed 73 per cent of people, excluding 'don't knows', across the UK think Mr Johnson should quit.
The SNP's deputy westminster leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “"Despite Boris Johnson' s desperate attempts to hide and try and wait for this latest scandal to pass, the reality is that people will not be fooled.
"Tory MPs must take responsibility and show him the door – or the whole party will be further tainted by the lies, arrogance and rule-breaking."
SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alyn Smith added: "At a time when the efforts of the British state should be focused on the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, which is blighting families across these islands, government time and resources are now being expended to protect a weak Prime Minster who too cowardly to admit his actions to the public and to Parliament.
"UK ministers have spent countless hours on television making excuse for Boris Johnson's lies, while Government officials have been directed by the Prime Minster to investigate whether or not he attended his own party in his own home.”
The allegations have now seen MPs raise concerns Mr Johnson is undermining democracy by causing people to lose faith in politicians.
Labour’s shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said: “The PM still claims no parties or illegal gathering took place in his own home.
“I don’t think that position is credible and just shows the character of the PM. He thinks he can lie his way out of any trouble and treat the public like fools.
“Heart-breaking story after heart-breaking story of the sacrifices people made under Government restrictions will be replayed for years and get the PM and the Government's reaction was to stick two fingers up and break their own laws.
“The wider issue is he brings the entirety of politics and parliament into disrepute at a time when the public need to be able to trust governments and comply with difficult restrictions for the sake of public health.
“That has broken down as the PM has lost all moral authority and trust.”
Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael claimed Mr Johnson should be “run right out of Downing Street today”.
He said: "The one fig leaf Boris Johnson held up in his defence when allegations of lockdown parties arose last year was that, implausibly or not, he had not been aware of the events going on.
"Conservative MPs have to ask themselves today how much more shame they can pile upon their party.
"You have to suspect that there will be more tales of rule-breaking to come - at least if they take a stand now then they may save some more red faces to come."
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.