An influential Conservative MP has shared an NHS campaign poster urging people to abide by lockdown rules shortly after photos surfaced of Boris Johnson raising a glass at a farewell party in Downing Street – and appearing to be breaking those rules.
Steve Baker, who played a pivotal role in bringing down Theresa May over Brexit, posted the image of a woman breathing through an oxygen mask with the message: “Look into her eyes and tell her never bend the rules.”
No comment has been added to the image.
In April, Baker, a former minister, called on the prime minister to resign via partygate, telling the Commons: “The prime minister should be gone by now. Really, the prime minister should just know that the gig is over.”
Johnson had faced mounting pressure from his own MPs after he was fined for a meeting ahead of his 56th birthday in June 2020.
But efforts to get him out seemed to have abated after the Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation into Partygate last week and took no further action against the prime minister.
After ITV News published four images on Monday showing the Prime Minister with a drink in hand as he stood behind a table strewn with wine bottles and food, there were signs that Tory’s discomfort had returned.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross – another who had urged Johnson to go – demanded the prime minister explain why he believes his behavior was “acceptable”, while most will think the photos “seem unjustifiable and wrong” .
His predecessor, Ruth Davidson, went on to say that Johnson should resign.
To turn the unrest into a leadership challenge, 53 Tory MPs would have to write a letter to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence.
However, some of those who demanded Johnson’s resignation at the start of the year have since retracted their letters, arguing that the crisis in Ukraine is the wrong time for a protracted leadership battle.
And some conservatives stood next to their leader, while backbencher Peter Bone suggested the image “proves nothing”.
Downing Street declined to defend the portrayed scene, saying the Prime Minister will comment after the Sue Gray report is published in Partygate in the coming days.
The photos were taken at a farewell party for then communications director Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, eight days after Johnson imposed England’s second national coronavirus lockdown.
For four weeks, people were banned from social mixing except to meet one person outside.
Johnson had previously told the Commons there was “no” party in Downing Street on that date, raising the question of whether he had deliberately misled parliament, meaning he would be expected to tender his resignation.
Other comments on social media poked fun at the Metropolitan Police (which reportedly fined at least one person who attended the Nov. 13 event, but not the prime minister), its defense of the “raid by cake” and the campaign to kill Keir. Starmer of violating lockdown rules too.