Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure to hold onto a drip feed of No. 10 rule-breaking revelations as he fights to stay in office.
Former Conservative minister Tobias Ellwood said the prime minister “should take the lead or step aside”, telling the BBC: “We need leadership.”
The remarks from the chairman of the Commons Defense Committee came as further claims of regular “Wine Time Friday” gatherings in Downing Street while coronavirus rules were in place.
The Mirror said the weekly schedules are a long-standing No. 10 tradition, including in previous administrations, and they continued even after COVID restrictions were imposed to restrict indoor mixing between households.
The newspaper said employees bought a £142 fridge to keep their wine bottles cold and the prime minister was aware of socializing.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “An investigation is underway to establish the facts surrounding the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, setting and purpose, in terms of adherence to the guidance at the time.
“The findings will be made public in due course.”
Ministers have called on disgruntled Tory lawmakers to wait until senior civil servant Sue Gray publishes her investigation into the claims of lockdown-busting parties in the government.
But backbencher Andrew Bridghan said he “didn’t need to see what Sue Gray says, to me, Boris Johnson has lost the moral right to lead the country.”
The MP for North West Leicestershire confirmed he had submitted a letter of no-confidence to Mr Johnson’s leadership “some time ago”.
Only a handful of Tories have publicly announced that they had submitted letters to the 1922 Committee of Backbench MPs, but the Telegraph said that sources estimated that around 20 would have been handed over – although this would have triggered a vote of the leadership. Much less than the 54 required to do so.
Asked by BBC Breakfast about reports of “wine time Friday” sessions in Downing Street during the lockdown, Mr Bridghan said: “It doesn’t matter, honestly, if the Prime Minister was present or not.
“After all, he’s responsible for what’s going on in government, he’s responsible for the culture in No. 10, and what we’re seeing is a culture where it’s a rule for them and the rest of us. Do as we are told, and this is not acceptable.
“I’m not sure any apology is going to justify that.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer reiterated Mr Bridghan’s claim that the prime minister had lost his moral authority, and called on the Tory party to topple him.
He told the Fabian Society conference in London: “Moral rights certainly matter in relation to COVID, but we have other bigger challenges facing this country.
“We have a prime minister who is absent – he has literally gone into hiding at the moment and is unable to lead, so I conclude he has to go.
“And of course there is a party comfort in his departure, but it is really in the national interest now that he leaves, so it is very important now that the Tory Party does what it needs to do and get rid of it.”
Mr Johnson faced further embarrassment this week after Downing Street was forced to apologize to Buckingham Palace after it emerged that two staff parties were held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral Was.
Eyewitnesses said he was drunk and guests danced to music, as the two post-work events merged on 16 April 2021, with a man sent to a local shop with a suitcase to buy alcohol. , according to the Telegraph, which first reported the allegations.
Ms Gray is said to have been “completely blinded” by the latest revelations, the Times reported.
The paper said the official Cabinet Office was concerned that Downing Street staff were withholding information about the parties from it because it wanted to establish facts.