Douglas Ross has urged Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister over the Downing Street party row and said his position is “untenable”.
The Scottish Tory boss says the UK leader should step down from his post after he admitted attending the bash on May 20, 2020.
Mr Ross said yesterday that the PM should quit office if he had mislead Parliament by breaking lockdown while the nation was forced to stay indoors.
The Prime Minister insisted earlier he did not think he had breached virus laws – but Mr Ross has now told him he should submit his resignation.
‘His position is no longer tenable’
The Scottish Conservative chief said yesterday he was “furious” after reports emerged the PM and his wife had attended a large garden party.
Today he said: “Regretfully, I have to say that his position is no longer tenable.”
“He believes that he didn’t do anything wrong and he has put up a defence for his position but I also have to look at the information in front of me and stick with the position I made quite clear yesterday that if he did attend that party he couldn’t continue.”
The Moray MSP was backed by fellow MSPs north of the border with the Scottish Tories now in open revolt against the Westminster leadership.
But his plea was dismissed by Aberdeen-born senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is reported to have said “he’s in Elgin and the national Tory leader is in London”.
Mr Ross told STV News: “There was one simple question to answer when we saw this invitation which was to more than 100 people asking them to join others in the Downing Street garden and bring their own booze.
“If the Prime Minister was there, and he accepted today that he was, then I felt he could not continue.
“What we also heard from the Prime Minister today was an apology and he said with hindsight he would have done things differently, which for me is an acceptance from the Prime Minister that it was wrong.
“I don’t want to be in this position, but I am in this position now, where I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives.”
He added: “I spoke to the Prime Minister this afternoon and I set down my reasons and I explained to him my position.”
It’s understood Mr Ross plans to submit a letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee – an influential group of backbench Tory MPs.
The Moray MSP refused to be drawn on whether he thinks his Westminster colleagues should force the Prime Minister out if he refuses to quit.
He said that his decision was an “individual choice” and added that he does not regret backing the under-fire PM for the Tory party leadership in 2019.
A leaked email showed a senior aide to Mr Johnson urging No10 staff to come along and bring their own booze to the event.
The Prime Minister apologised in Westminster as he was grilled by rivals, and admitted he would have to take responsibility for the outdoors party.
But he was urged to resign by both Labour leader Keir Starmer and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford for flouting Covid rules.
He has made the right call.
Liz Smith MSP
Giving the party leader his backing, senior Conservative politician Murdo Fraser tweeted: “I’m afraid the Prime Minister’s position is no longer tenable, he has lost public trust, and in the interests of the country and the Conservative Party he should step down.”
Douglas Lumsden said: “Fully support @Douglas4Moray with this call.
“Can’t have PM breaking rules when the rest of us were confined to zoom quizzes.”
‘He has lost the confidence of the country’
Meanwhile, Liz Smith wrote: “I note that the media believe @Douglas4Moray Ross has made a brave call. He has also made the right call.”
Mr Ross was also backed by ex-Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw.
The MSP tweeted: “People in Eastwood, and across the UK made enormous sacrifices to follow the rules.
“Given that the PM has now confirmed he attended a rule breaking gathering, he has lost the confidence of the country, so I believe Douglas has made the right call & that the PM should stand down.
Ruth Davidson was also among those who backed Mr Ross after he made the huge judgement call.
It came after she savaged the Prime Minister live on TV yesterday, claiming that the lockdown breach was “appalling” and indefensible”.
A tough call to make. But the right one. https://t.co/KZ1pdFWyZ5
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonPC) January 12, 2022