Partygate: Anger grows among grassroots Conservatives with calls for Boris Johnson to resign

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Boris Johnson jogging through London earlier (Jeremy Selwyn)
Boris Johnson jogging through London earlier (Jeremy Selwyn)

Grassroots Tories in London are dismayed by the “Partygate” furore with a former junior minister joining calls for him to resign.

Bromley councillor Nicholas Bennett, who served as a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, told the Standard that allegations over parties held in Downing Street during lockdown had “snowballed” and could only be resolved by the prime minister’s resignation.

Barnet councillor John Marshall who served for 10 years as MP for Hendon South, said: “I’m ashamed of what has happened.

“I served in Parliament under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. They would not have allowed the culture to develop - that had Friday nights as drinks nights.”

According to the Guardian, a survey by Tory group Grassroots Conservatives has found 40% thought Boris Johnson should resign.

However, Ealing Councillor Julian Gallant said he was “keen for Boris to stay”, citing the vaccine rollout and response to Covid as Mr Johnson’s successes in government.

There have been concerns raised at local level over the impact “Partygate” could have on the local elections in May, when voters will choose which parties control councils across London.

Croydon Conservative leader Jason Perry said: “It’s disappointing that parties have gone on and there appears to be a culture of partying and drinking in Whitehall.

“The problem we often have in local elections is people voting on national issues rather than those local issues.”

Richmond councillor Peter Buckwell said: “It’s very disappointing but we will wait for the (Sue Gray) report.

“Inevitably the national picture clouds it (local campaigning) - people see the party badge.”

Sutton councillor Tim Crowley said: “Unless things change quickly, I don’t know whether Boris can come back from this.

“We have a good organisation here now with the two MPs, an ability to cut through but I’m worried that cut through is going to get lost in the fog of the national issues.”

Earlier on Monday, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi denied that Mr Johnson was in danger of losing his position over partygate.

The cabinet minister said Mr Johnson would remain in place but acknowledged “mistakes” had been made by Downing Street staff after they breached lockdown rules on multiple occasions.

Mr Zahawi said he “did not recognise” reports that the prime minister would unveil a flurry of policy announcements – dubbed “Operation Red Meat” – in a bid to save his premiership and appease furious Tory MPs.

These include the freezing of the licence fee payment for the next two years and sending asylum seekers to offshore locations for processing.

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