Floundering Boris Johnson says questions about No 10 party are ‘wasting people’s time’

Boris Johnson has said further questions about the partygate scandal are “wasting people’s time” as he floundered to respond to a grilling by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

The prime minister refused to say when become aware that any of his staff had concerns about the drinks party in the Downing Street garden during lockdown.

Sir Keir told Mr Johnson that “nobody believes” the PM’s claim he wasn’t “told” it was against the rules for him to attend the No 10 gathering on 20 May 2020.

The Labour leader asked when he first became aware that any of his staff had “concerns” – but Mr Johnson said: “It is for the inquiry to come forward with an explanation of what happened”.

Mr Johnson said Sir Keir was “continuing to ask a series of questions which he knows will be fully by the inquiry” adding: “He is wasting this House’s time – he is wasting the people’s time.”

Sir Keir said it was “ridiculous” for Mr Johnson to wait for the investigating civil servant Sue Gray to tell him what happened – and for the PM to claim he did not know he was at a party while “wading through the empty bottles and platters of sandwiches”.

Referring to Mr Johnson’s apology to the Queen for leaving drinks at No 10 the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, the Labour leader said: “Isn’t he ashamed that he didn’t hand in his resignation at the same time?”

The Labour leader began PMQs by “warmly welcoming” to the opposition benches the MP for Bury South Christian Wakeford – who defected from the Tories to Labour just moments before the Commons clash.

Mr Johnson responded to the defection blow: “We will win again in Bury South at the next election under this prime minister.”

In a dramatic intervention in the Commons, the senior Conservative MP David Davis called on Mr Johnson to quit – quoting MP Leo Amery telling Neville Chamberlain and saying: “In the name of God, go.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Commons: “This week was supposed to be ‘operation save big dog’ but it’s quickly become ‘operation dog’s dinner’.”

It comes as reports indicate that around 12 MPs from the party’s 2019 election intake sent letters of no-confidence to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady on Wednesday morning.

A significant group of Tories who won their seats in Mr Johnson’s 2019 election landslide appear to have lost faith in the PM, after he admitted attending a “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden during lockdown of May 2020.

Dubbed the “pork pie plot”, a group of around 20 MPs who won their seats in so-called red wall constituencies at the last election are understood to have met on Tuesday to discuss Mr Johnson’s potential downfall.

A no-confidence vote in Mr Johnson is now a matter of “when” rather than “if” after a dramatic shift in mindset among Conservative backbenchers, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said.


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