LONDON (Reuters) – British Conservative Party lawmaker Jesse Norman, previously loyal to leader Boris Johnson, said on Monday he could no longer support the prime minister, calling on Johnson to end the charade of staying in office as it insulted the electorate.
Johnson is set to face a vote of confidence later on Monday, after growing criticism of his leadership over the “partygate” scandal and a hostile reception at Platinum Jubilee events at the weekend when he was booed.
“I have always been deeply committed to public service,” Norman, a former junior finance minister, said in a letter to Johnson that he published on Twitter.
“But recent events have served to clarify the position this country is in under your leadership, beyond any doubt; and I am afraid I can see no circumstances in which I could serve in a government led by you.”
At least 54 lawmakers have already said they have requested a confidence vote to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, triggering the vote, to be held later on Monday.
Norman said he had also submitted a letter, citing “casual law-breaking” at Downing Street when COVID-19 rules were breached with lockdown gatherings, and the questionable legality of his Brexit and immigration policies among other things.
“People are crying out for good government … neither the Conservative Party nor this country can afford to squander the next two years adrift and distracted by endless debate about you and your leadership,” he wrote.
“For you to prolong this charade by remaining in office not only insults the electorate, and the tens of thousands of people who support, volunteer, represent and campaign for our party; it makes a decisive change of government at the next election much more likely. That is potentially catastrophic for this country.”
(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; Writing by William Schomberg and Alistair Smout; Editing by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper)