Boris's anti-sleaze chief quits over Partygate ahead of confidence vote

6 June 2022, 11:42 | Updated: 6 June 2022, 16:55

Boris Johnson's anti-corruption champion sensationally quits over partygate 'resigning matter'
Boris Johnson's anti-corruption champion sensationally quits over partygate 'resigning matter'. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By James Bickerton

Tory MP John Penrose has resigned as Boris Johnson's Anti-Corruption Champion and urged the Prime Minister to quit, accusing him of having broken the Ministerial Code over the Partygate scandal.

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In a letter to Mr Johnson he said: "The only fair conclusion to draw from the Sue Gray report is that you have breached a fundamental principle of the Ministerial Code - a clear resigning matter.

"But your letter to your Independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code ignores this absolutely central, non-negotiable issue completely.

"If it had addressed it, it is hard to see how it could have reached any other conclusion than that you had broken the code."

Later in the letter Mr Penrose added: "As a result, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be honourable or right for me to remain as your anti-corruption champion after reaching this conclusion, nor for you to remain as Prime Minister either.

"I hope you will stand aside so we can look to the future and choose your successor."

Mr Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, was appointed the PM's Anti-Corruption Champion in 2017.

The former anti-sleeze chief later told Sky News now is the "beginning of the end" for Mr Johnson's leadership.

He continued: "I'm sorry to have to resign as the PM's anti-corruption tsar but, after his reply last week about the ministerial code, it's pretty clear he has broken it.

"That's a resigning matter for me, and it should be for the PM too."

The Prime Minister faces a confidence vote later today after over 15 percent of Tory MPs submitted letters saying they no longer support his leadership.

READ MORE: Boris battles for Downing St as Jeremy Hunt says he will vote against beleaguered PM

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Mr Penrose is married to Dido Harding, the Tory peer and businesswomen who organised Britain's coronavirus test and trace system.

In a further blow to the PM Jeremy Hunt, widely seen as a potential Conservative leadership contender, indicated he will vote against Mr Johnson in the confidence vote.

Previously he'd said it isn't the right time for a leadership challenge, due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Mr Hunt tweeted: "Having been trusted with power, Conservative MPs know in our hearts we are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve.

"We are not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.

"And because we are no longer trusted by the electorate, who know this too, we are set to lose the next general election.

"Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values.

"Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change."

Mr Hunt's remarks sparked a furious response from Culture Secretary, and Johnson loyalist, Nadine Dorris.

Addressing the former health secretary she said: "Your pandemic preparation during six years as health secretary was found wanting and inadequate.

"Your duplicity right now in destabilising the party and country to serve your own personal ambition, more so."

Mr Johnson has been fined £50 by the Metropolitan Police for a breach of coronavirus rules which took place in 10 Downing Street on June 19.

He has repeatedly apologised for his actions, but insists he will not step down as PM.

A report by top civil servant Sue Gray concluded there were "failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office" leading to lockdown breaches.

READ MORE: 'This is the beginning of the end for Boris' says Starmer ahead of confidence vote tonight