A former minister has become the 14th Conservative MP to publicly call for Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Nick Gibb declared “we need to change the prime minister” and confirmed he has submitted a letter of no confidence to the 1922 Committee.
The MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton said that the Conservative Party must face the “hard truths”, and added his constituents are “furious about the double standards” following the partygate revelations.
Mr Gibb is among nine Tory MPs who have revealed that they have submitted letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson, while a further five have publicly called for the PM to go.
Read more: Which Conservative MPs have called on the prime minister to quit?
Mr Johnson will face a vote of confidence in his leadership if 54 Tories – 15% of the party’s 360 MPs – send letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
Other Tory MPs are expected to consider over the weekend whether to write to Sir Graham in an attempt to force a leadership contest.
However, Mr Gibb added that there is “still support” for the prime minister in his constituency for “getting Brexit done”, the COVID vaccine rollout, and the fact that “people like his style, his positivity, and optimism”.
But he warned that people have “serious doubts” about whether they can trust him.
PM’s position is ‘untenable’
His newspaper article came hours after Conservative MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Aaron Bell revealed he has also handed in a letter of no confidence, saying the PM’s position is “untenable”.
I have submitted a letter to Sir Graham Brady.
Please see the statement attached explaining my reasons.
I will not be commenting further at this time. pic.twitter.com/O9RUr3JSRE
— Aaron Bell MP (@AaronBell4NUL) February 4, 2022
He spoke in the Commons on Monday as Mr Johnson faced MPs in the wake of the release of a partial version of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into partygate.
The report said Downing Street lockdown gatherings represented a “serious failure” and were “difficult to justify”.
Mr Bell recalled how only 10 people were present at his grandmother’s lockdown funeral before asking Mr Johnson: “Does the prime minister think I’m a fool?”
PM tries to rally support
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has continued to rally for support from staff as pressure mounts over Downing Street gatherings during COVID restrictions in 2020 and 2021, 12 of which are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Johnson sent a letter to all Conservative MPs on Friday, seen by Sky News, saying he is “committed to improving the way 10 Downing Street, and government more broadly, works”, adding that the process “is now under way”.
Read More: Ten key findings from Sue Gray report
The PM said he will be working with Sir Graham and heads of the 1922 Committee “to re-establish backbench policy committees” as he sought to reassure backbenchers their work and views matter to his government.
After the departure of a number of aides, the beleaguered Mr Johnson told staff a line from The Lion King, saying “change is good”.
He was hit with a fifth resignation in less than 24 hours when Elena Narozanski, a special adviser in the Number 10 policy unit, walked out on Friday.
Her departure comes after Number 10 revealed Dan Rosenfield, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, are leaving their roles.
Two other key advisers to Mr Johnson – press chief Jack Doyle and policy chief Munira Mirza – have also resigned.
Prime minister pictured with beer
Further turmoil struck on Friday after The Daily Mirror reported a photograph of the prime minister holding a beer at an alleged gathering in June 2020 has been handed to the Met Police.
The paper said it was one of the 300 photos given to the force as part of their investigation into 12 alleged gatherings that may have broken COVID restrictions.
The photo is reported to have also included Chancellor Rishi Sunak, holding a soft drink.
Number 10 told the PA news agency it could not comment while the Met Police’s investigation was ongoing.