Boris Johnson should quit over Downing Street garden party, says Douglas Ross

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  • Douglas Ross
    Scottish politician
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (right) has called for Boris Johnson (centre) to quit (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (right) has called for Boris Johnson (centre) to quit (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has called for the Prime Minister to stand down after he admitted attending a party thrown in the Downing Street garden during lockdown.

Boris Johnson said at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that he had attended the event, to which more around 100 people were invited, for about 25 minutes, perceiving it to be a “work event”.

Mr Ross is the highest profile Conservative to call for the Prime Minister to go, claiming Mr Johnson’s position is now “untenable”.

Speaking to STV News, he said: “I said, yesterday, if the Prime Minister attended this gathering, event in Downing Street on May 20 2020, he could not continue as Prime Minister so, regretfully, I have to say his position is no longer tenable.”

The Scottish Tory leader said the Prime Minister’s position is ‘untenable’ (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)
The Scottish Tory leader said the Prime Minister’s position is ‘untenable’ (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)

He added: “There was one simple question to answer yesterday, indeed, from Monday night when we saw this invitation which was to more than 100 people asking them to join others in the Downing Street garden and bring their own booze.

“If the Prime Minister was there, and he accepted today that he was, then I felt he could not continue.

“What we also heard from the Prime Minister today was an apology and he said with hindsight he would have done things differently, which for me is an acceptance from the Prime Minister that it was wrong and therefore, I don’t want to be in this position, but I am in this position now, where I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives.”

The Moray MP said he spoke to the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon “and I set down my reasons and I explained to him my position” although he refused to divulge how the Prime Minister responded.

Mr Ross, who is understood to be sending a letter to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs expressing his lack of confidence in the Prime Minister, said Mr Johnson believed he “didn’t do anything wrong”.

“But I also have to look at the information I have got in front of me and to stick with the position I made clear yesterday, that if he did attend that party he couldn’t continue as Prime Minister,” he added.

Mr Ross was immediately supported by Scottish Tory colleagues, including former leader Jackson Carlaw and MSPs Murdo Fraser, Liz Smith and Douglas Lumsden, who took to Twitter to back their leader.

The Tory MP said there was “significant unrest and concern” among Conservative members in Westminster and Holyrood over the gathering.

ITV News reported on Tuesday an email had been sent by the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary inviting staff to a gathering in the grounds of Downing Street on May 20 2020.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said he went into the garden to thank staff for their efforts and stayed for 25 minutes.

“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he said.

“With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them.

“I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies.”

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