Boris Johnson 'faces 12k fines for party breaches' as three more Tories call for him to go

2 February 2022, 10:13 | Updated: 3 February 2022, 07:56

Tobias Ellwood and Anthony Mangnall said they were submitting letters of no confidence
Tobias Ellwood and Anthony Mangnall said they were submitting letters of no confidence. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Three more Conservative MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in the PM in the wake of Partygate, as it emerged Boris Johnson could potentially face over £12,000 in fines.

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Senior Tory Tobias Ellwood submitted a letter followed by MPs Anthony Mangnall and Gary Streeter.

A handful of Conservative MPs have revealed they have submitted letters, with at least 54 needing to write to Sir Graham Brady to set up a vote on the PM's future.

However, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries insisted those calling for the Prime Minister to resign were just a few "egos [who] want to make it all about them" by "doing Labour's work".

"The defining mission of the PM and this government is to level up the whole of the UK," Ms Dorries said.

"On the very day we are setting out steps to make this happen, a handful of egos want to make it all about them.

"It's selfish, doing Labour's work and it’s really not helping their constituents."

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Mr Johnson is now believed to have been present for at least six of the gatherings being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

Under Covid regulations, the fines issued for fixed penalty notices double which each subsequent one given.

The first fine could range from £60 to £200, according to human rights barrister Adam Wagner, depending on when it took place during the pandemic.

Mr Wagner calculated that, if that fine is assumed to be £100, then the following fines would be £200, £400, £800, £1,600 and £3,200 and £6,400.

This would result in the Prime Minister facing £12,300 in fines.

It comes as Mr Johnson said he would own up if he was fined, adding he did not "believe it would be a secret very long", but refused to say if he would quit.

In an interview with The Sun he denied swerving tough questions, insisting that he could not give "commentary" on the inquiry into parties "until the process concludes".

The Independent reported that the Lib Dems are today tabling a bill to force Mr Johnson to admit to any fines he receives.

The Ministerial Disclosure Bill being tabled by Alistair Carmichael would force by law any government minister issued with a fixed penalty notice to make it public.

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Mr Elwood revealed on Wednesday morning that Mr Johnson had lost his support and confirmed he would be submitting a letter to the 1922 Committee.

He is one of several Conservative backbenchers who have lost patience in the PM following this week's partial publication of Sue Gray's report.

He said it was "horrible" for MPs to have to "continuously... defend this to the British public".

The former minister and MP for Bournemouth East mentioned Mr Johnson's decision to accuse Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

The PM made the claim while responding to questions on Ms Gray's report in the House of Commons, despite no evidence to support it.

Since then it has been widely criticised, including by victims of Savile.

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Mr Ellwood said: "I mean who advised the Prime Minister to say this? We're better than this, we must seek to improve our standards and rise above where we are today."

He said it was time for Mr Johnson to "take a grip of this" and called for the PM himself to call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the 54 letter threshold to be reached.

"It's time to resolve this completely so the party can get back to governing," he said.

Mr Ellwood's intervention came after the Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson was seen heading up to his Downing Street flat on the night it hosted a gathering being investigated by the Met.

Meanwhile, new reports revealed that he spoke at two more leaving dos at the centre of inquiries.

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Mr Magnall tweeted: "Standards in public life matter.

"At this time I can no longer support the PM. His actions and mistruths are overshadowing the extraordinary work of so many excellent ministers and colleagues."

Mr Streeter said in a Facebook post: "I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street."

He added he had not taken his decision to send a letter "lightly".

Conservative MPs Sir Charles Walker, 54, who was elected in 2005 and is a former acting chairman of the 1922 Committee, and Peter Aldous also called for Johnson's resignation on Tuesday.

At least five more MPs, including members of the Government, are considering submitting letters, according to The Times.

Senior official Ms Gray said she had found "failures of leadership and judgment" as gatherings were held while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021. 

She revealed in her report that of the 16 alleged gatherings she had deemed necessary to investigate, at least 12 linked to government properties in Downing Street and Whitehall were being investigated by the police. 

She was unable to publish her full findings because of the Met inquiry.