Scottish Tories ‘jumped the gun’ by calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation

·3-min read
Alister Jack said he would 'encourage people to wait until they see the full facts before they jump to conclusions' - Eddie Mulholland
Alister Jack said he would 'encourage people to wait until they see the full facts before they jump to conclusions' - Eddie Mulholland

The Scottish Secretary has accused Tory MSPs of having "jumped the gun" by demanding Boris Johnson's resignation, urging them to reconsider if he is "exonerated" by an official inquiry.

Alister Jack disclosed that he had unsuccessfully tried to persuade Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, to hold off calling for Mr Johnson to quit until the investigation into Downing Street parties during lockdown had been completed.

Almost the entire Tory group at Holyrood have now gone public to demand the Prime Minister's resignation, but Mr Jack – who gave his "100 per cent" backing to Mr Johnson – said they should have waited until the inquiry by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, was completed.

Although Mr Ross and Mr Jack have made their positions clear, the other four Scottish Tory MPs on Thursday kept their cards close to their chests on whether they would join calls for Mr Johnson to resign or would submit letters of no confidence to the 1922 committee.

One senior figure told The Telegraph: "A lot of MPs are waiting to see how Boris's statement has landed with their constituents, and they will make up their minds after that."

They said this would determine the Prime Minister's future rather than Ms Gray's report, with many voters having already made up their minds about whether Mr Johnson should quit.

Although they do not have the same power to trigger a vote of no confidence with letters to the 1922 committee, by Thursday lunchtime 27 out of 31 MSPs had issued calls for Mr Johnson to quit.

But Mr Jack told BBC Scotland: "I hope that when Sue Gray's report comes out that those who may, in my words, have jumped the gun on this, if the Prime Minister is exonerated in her report, then they may reconsider their position.

"Let's wait – they need to see the full facts. I understand that, but I would encourage people to wait until they see the full facts before they jump to conclusions."

He said he had held "a number of conversations" with Mr Ross over the previous 48 hours asking him "to wait until Sue Gray reports".

Craig Hoy, a South of Scotland MSP, denied he and his colleague had acted too soon, telling BBC Scotland: "I don't think we're pre-judging anything. It was quite clear from the PM's remarks there was a party. He did attend it."

However, Mr Jack's call to wait until the Gray report is published was endorsed by two other Scottish Tory MPs.

Andrew Bowie, the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP, said: "I do not believe the [Prime Minister's] apology was enough. However, I think it's important to wait and see what the report says."

David Duguid, the Banff and Buchan MP, said: "A comprehensive investigation into what happened is under way, and I believe Sue Gray should be allowed to complete her inquiry so the full facts can be established."

David Mundell, the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP and a former Scottish Secretary, refused to comment on whether he thought Mr Johnson should resign or whether he would be submitting a letter to the 1922 Committee.

John Lamont, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP, did not respond to calls asking for his view. He is a close ally of Mr Ross, ran Jeremy Hunt's leadership campaign against Mr Johnson in Scotland and is parliamentary private secretary to Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, who would be one of the favourites to succeed Mr Johnson if he quit.