Brits need to see the government display “professionalism and competence” in the wake of the partygate scandal, trade minister Penny Mordaunt has told City A.M.
Mordaunt, who was touted in January as a potential future Tory leader, said “the really essential issue [about the Gray report] is about our ability to restore trust” and to show “values” that are in line with the public.
Mordaunt did not give a clear answer when asked if the Prime Minister had shown “professionalism and competence” himself.
Gray’s report found a pattern of brazen Covid rule breaking in 2020 and 2021 by Downing Street staff, however Johnson maintains that he was not aware that these events were in breach of his own restrictions.
Johnson is beginning to come under serious pressure as a steady stream of Tory MPs turn on the Prime Minister.
An estimated 28 MPs have called on him to resign and at least another dozen have publicly called Johnson’s leadership into question.
Fifty-four letters need to be sent to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady to trigger a leadership contest.
When asked by Sky News if the PM could survive a leadership vote, science minister George Freeman said: “I just don’t know … I don’t know where backbench colleagues are”.
Senior Tory and major Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom today said “there have been unacceptable failings of leadership that cannot be tolerated and are the responsibility of the prime minister”.
Leadsom said MPs “must now decide on what is the right course of action that will restore confidence in our government”.
Leadsom, who supported Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, did not make clear if she has sent in a letter of no confidence to the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.
Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken yesterday said Johnson should call a vote of no-confidence in himself, while former Conservative attorney general Jeremy Wright and North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen both called for the PM to resign.
Former Conservative party leader Lord William Hague said he now expects a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister by the end of June, after two crucial by-elections.
“The fuse is getting closer to the dynamite here and it’s speeding up,” he told Times Radio.
It appeared that there was little appetite in the Conservative party for a leadership challenge when the Gray report was released last Wednesday.
However, a steady drip of MPs have come forward in the past week to question the PM’s leadership and it is now clear that the mood in the party is shifting.
The Prime Minister issued an apology to the House of Commons for Sue Gray’s findings and took “full responsibility” for the pattern of breaches.
He also said it was time for the country to “move on” from the saga, while assuring people that he had not intentionally misled parliament when he said multiple times that all rules were followed as he really thought that was the case.
When asked about Johnson’s response to the Gray report, Penny Mordaunt told City A.M. “I think that the really essential issue in this is about our ability to restore trust and I also think that it’s … not really about the minutiae of X party or Y party or cake or all of that. It’s about a wider and more important issue on professionalism and competence. And also values.
“I think those are the things I think that are really exercising people. The only thing that is going to put this whole situation to bed is if we demonstrate our professionalism and competence as a government and the values that the public hold dear. Our actions are the only thing that are going to be able to do that.”