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by Kirsteen Paterson
06 July 2022
PMQs: Boris Johnson insists 'job of PM is to keep going'

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for Prime Minister's Questions

PMQs: Boris Johnson insists 'job of PM is to keep going'

"The job of a Prime Minister in difficult circumstances, when he's been handed a colossal mandate, is to keep going and that's what I'm going to do" - so vowed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister's Questions was dominated by calls for him to quit Downing Street.

The resignations of cabinet secretaries, ministers, aides and envoys began on Tuesday evening and continued even as Johnson stood at the dispatch box this afternoon.

With a new frontbench in place for the session after a mini-reshuffle, Labour's Keir Starmer said they were "only in office because no one else is prepared to debase themselves any longer", and referred to "the charge of a lightweight brigade".

"A few weeks ago I compared the Prime Minister to Monty Python's black knight," the SNP's Ian Blackford said. "I was wrong - he's actually the dead parrot. He's now an ex-prime minister."

But criticism came also from Johnson's own Conservative benches, when Tim Loughton MP asked: "Does the Prime Minister think there are any circumstances in which he should resign?"

And Tory MP Gary Sambrook accused Johnson of telling fellow Tories that they should have stopped former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher from drinking on the night he is accused of groping a man at a private member's club.

Sambrook said that was "insulting to the people who did try and intervene that night" adding, "The Prime Minister constantly tries to deflect from the issue, always tries to blame other people for mistakes.

"There is nothing left for him to do other than to take responsibility and resign."

Sambrook's words drew rare applause in the Commons, prompting Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to rebuke those clapping for breaking House rules.

And there was little of the usual cheering from Tory benches to bolster the PM's confidence when he spoke, with stony faces seen on the frontbench.

There was worse to come for the PM when former Health Secretary Sajid Javid rose behind him to give his statement to parliament, following his Tuesday night resignation. "I am not one of life's quitters," he said, but "today, it is about the importance of integrity".

Referring to partygate, for which Johnson still faces one probe by a Westminster committee, he stated: "When the first stories of parties in Downing Street emerged late last year, I was personally assured at the most senior level by my Right Honourable friend then that, and I quote, 'there had been no parties in Downing Street and no rules were broken'.

"So I gave the benefit of doubt and I went on those media rounds to say that I'd had those assurances from the senior most senior level of the Prime Minister's team. Then we had more stories, we had the Sue Gray report. 

"I continued to give the benefit of the doubt. And now this week again, we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we've all been told. At some point we have to conclude that enough is enough."

Javid, with Scottish MP Andrew Bowie nodding nearby, said: "Last month, I gave the benefit of doubt one last time. I have concluded that the problem starts at the top and I believe that is not going to change. That means that it is for those of us in a position who have responsibility to make that change. I wish my Cabinet colleagues well and I can see they have decided to remain in the cabinet. They will have their own reasons. But it is it is a choice. I know just how difficult that choices but let's be clear. Not doing something is an active decision. I'm deeply concerned about how the next generation will see the Conservative Party on our current course."

As Javid finished speaking, some of those still in the packed chamber called out "bye Boris".

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