Partygate: Threat of general election within weeks branded nonsense

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·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg arrives in Downing Street, London, ahead of the government's weekly Cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday December 7, 2021.
Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested an election would be needed to secure the mandate of the next Conservative Party leader. (PA)

Claims that the country would be plunged into a general election if Boris Johnson is ousted as prime minister have been branded "nonsense".

On Wednesday, the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said he thought an election would be needed to secure the mandate of the next party leader if Johnson's premiership is ended in the coming weeks by the Partygate scandal.

The comments have been seen as a thinly-veiled threat aimed at those Tory MPs with small majorities whose constituencies could be under threat if voters were sent to the polls.

But Damian Green, who served as Theresa May's deputy prime minister, brushed off the claims.

"Jacob, bless him, is talking nonsense," he told ITV's Peston.

Read more: Sue Gray’s report into No10 parties could still be published this week after day of confusion

Conservative MP Damian Green on College Green in Westminster, the morning after Prime Minister Therea May survived an attempt by Conservative MPs to oust her with a vote of no confidence.
Damian Green, who served as Theresa May's second-in-command, brushed off the claims a general election will be needed. (PA)

"We have a system of parliamentary democracy - he's leader of the House of Commons, he must have noticed that.

"Probably the two most presidential prime ministers we've had in my lifetime have been Thatcher and Blair. Both of them left in the middle of a parliament and both of their successors went on for the whole term of that parliament."

His comments came as Johnson awaits the outcome of the Sue Gray report into Partygate, which is being held as a make-or-break moment for his premiership.

If the findings are damning - including whether Johnson broke COVID-19 rules after attending a "bring your own booze" party in Downing Street during lockdown - it is widely rumoured Tory MPs will force a vote of no confidence.

Watch: What will the Partygate probe mean for Boris Johnson?

The PM is under further pressures to resign after the Metropolitan Police announced they have launched a criminal probe into the allegations of widespread partying through Downing Street and Whitehall.

Allies of the prime minister, such as Rees-Mogg, have been keen to stress that Johnson does not need to resign if he is interviewed by police.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Rees-Mogg said “very few people do lie in public life” and he added that “lying in public life is not a sensible thing to do, because it gets found out”.

Asked if Johnson would need to resign if he was interviewed under caution by police, he said: “No, of course that wouldn’t be a resigning matter, because people are innocent in this country until proved guilty.

“And it is worth bearing in mind that the police themselves have said that the fact that they are investigating something doesn’t mean that any crime has necessarily been committed, that they are investigating because that is what the police do.”

Gray's report could be made public at any time, with many reports saying the timing is most likely to be this week or early next week.

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