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Boris Johnson: Senior Tories urge PM to quit after party apology

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Cabinet members including deputy PM Dominic Raab rallied round Mr Johnson.But Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and senior backbenchers William Wragg and Caroline Nokes called on him to go.Mr Ross, an MP and an MSP, said he had a "difficult conversation" with Mr Johnson after the PM's apology to MPs earlier on Wednesday.He said he would write to the 1922 Committee - which organises Tory leadership contests - to register his lack of confidence in the PM."He is the prime minister, it is his government that put these rules in place, and he has to be held to account for his actions," he said.If 54 backbench Conservative MPs send letters to the 1922 committee it will trigger a leadership challenge.Ministers have urged MPs to wait for the outcome of an investigation into alleged Covid-rule breaking at Downing Street parties by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which they say will be published shortly.But another backbencher William Wragg, who chairs an influential select committee, said the prime minister's position was "untenable"."I don't think it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the prime minister and indeed who governs this country," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.And fellow Tory Caroline Nokes, who chairs another Commons committee, said the prime minister should resign now as he was "damaging the entire Conservative brand".The former minister, who has previously been critical of Mr Johnson's leadership, told ITV's Robert Peston: "Regretfully, he looks like a liability. "And I think he either goes now, or he goes in three years' time at a general election."The prime minister's admission and apology in the Commons likely bought him a little time.A pause until the official inquiry into what parties did or didn't take place in Downing Street is published, in perhaps a week or so.But for many on his own side, Boris Johnson has already lost the benefit of the doubt.Growing numbers of his own MPs want him out, discussing frantically how and when his exit could take place.Read more from LauraAt Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson sought to calm anger about reports he had attended a "bring your own booze" party at the height of the first lockdown.He admitted he was at the 20 May 2020 gathering for about 25 minutes, so that he could "thank groups of staff" for their hard work. He said: "I believed implicitly that this was a work event."But he added: "With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside."I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that - even if it could have been said technically to fall within the guidance - there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way."Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the PM's defence was "so ridiculous that it's actually offensive to the British public" and he called on Mr Johnson "to do the decent thing and resign".The SNP's leader at Westminster Ian Blackford called on Tory MPs to force the PM out - and Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said he had to go.Sir Ed has written to the Metropolitan Police to ask them to investigate Mr Johnson's attendance at the 20 May party.This video can not be playedThe PM's statement was met with a mixed reaction from Tory MPs, with some saying he had sounded genuinely contrite.Dan Poulter, who also works as a psychiatrist, said: "I am pleased that the prime minister has apologised, but it's not much consolation to those of us who cared for patients on the frontline of the NHS and saw them die of Covid".Dominic Raab said the PM had "given a very clear account" of what had happened and had apologised for the "perception" of rule breaking.He said detailed claims about the 20 May party were being investigated by Sue Gray and the prime minister would update the Commons once she had finished her work. Downing Street originally denied a report by the Daily Mirror that a party took place in Downing Street.However, a video obtained by ITV News showed the prime minister's then-press secretary Allegra Stratton, joking about reports of an event, saying: “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”UK PM urged to quit after lockdown party apologyBiden speech 'unpresidential', says top RepublicanAndrew to face civil sex assault case, judge rulesUkrainians wait as Russia faces off with the WestA year on, has Trump benefited from a Twitter ban?What is China's Covid plan for the Olympics?How soaring cost of living is hitting Sri Lanka hardThe hunt for an island nation's missing $50mThe 52-year search for a missing girl.

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