Boris Johnson said he will face the Commons next week to “set the record straight” over his partygate fine – as more of his MPs called on him to quit.
The prime minister apologized earlier this week after he was ordered to pay a £50 fixed penalty for attending a birthday gathering in Downing Street in June last year, breaching his own government’s COVID-19 rules.
He has resisted opposition calls to quit, with senior Cabinet figures rallying round and even some MPs that previously wanted him to go over the scandal saying he should stay at least for now, as the Ukraine war rages.
But a handful of Tories have now made public their view that he should resign – with Tobias Ellwood and Gary Streeter affirming their positions on Thursday.
On Wednesday, justice minister Lord Wolfson resigned over the “scale, context and nature” of the law breaking, saying it “would be inconsistent with the rule of law for that conduct to pass with constitutional impunity”.
The Met Police has been investigating 12 events in Downing Street and Whitehall in 2020 and 2021 and has so far announced more than 50 fines, with more possible as they continue to sift evidence.
Those handed penalties so far include the PM and his wife Carrie as well as Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and the government’s former ethics chief Helen MacNamara.
Number 10 is understood to be braced for further fines as the Met investigation, Operation Hillman, progresses.
Mr Johnson has faced claims that he breached the ministerial code after initially telling parliament that no rules had been broken in relation to the parties.
He said during an event on Thursday – where he was launching a plan to send migrants who arrive illegally to Rwanda – that he would say more on partygate when he updates parliament next week.
The PM said: “You are going to have to wait until I come to Parliament when of course I will set the record straight in any way that I can.”
MPs will return to Westminster on Tuesday after the Easter recess.
Tobias Ellwood told Sky News on Thursday: “I do believe the prime minister should step back.”
Gary Streeter, who previously submitted a letter of no-confidence in the PM, has confirmed to constitute that his position is unchanged.
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Former Tory cabinet minister Karen Bradley said law breaking in Downing Street was “unforgivable” but the that war in Ukraine meant there was a need to “act responsibly so as to not make the situation worse”.
“But I do wish to make it clear that if I had been a minister found to have broken the laws that I passed, I would be tendering my resignation now,” she added.
Conservative MPs Nigel Mills, Anthony Mangnall and Craig Whittaker have also called for Mr Johnson to resign.
Others have suggested that while they think the prime minister to go, now would not be the right time.