Former cabinet minister Dame Andrea Leadsom has blamed Boris Johnson for “unacceptable failures of leadership” over the Partygate scandal.
The former business secretary is the 40th Conservative MP who has publicly expressed his displeasure with the prime minister since he was fined by the Met for violating lockdown rules in Downing Street, according to a Sky News tally.
Dame Andrea sent a letter to her South Northamptonshire constituents on Monday, saying that after a careful study of the Sue Gray report into the Partygate scandal “it is abundantly clear to me that given the extent and seriousness of rule-breaking”. In a span of 20 months, it is highly unlikely that senior leaders were unaware of what was happening”.
The senior Brexiteer, who supported Mr Johnson in his leadership campaign, said: “Therefore, I agree with Sue Grey’s findings that there have been significant leadership failures, both political and official, at No. 10 and the Cabinet Office.
“What I conclude from the Sue Gray Report is that there are unacceptable failures of leadership that cannot be tolerated and that is the responsibility of the prime minister.”
He said he and all Conservative lawmakers “must now decide what is the right course of action that will restore confidence in our government”.
Tory lawmakers express their displeasure with the prime minister since the release of the Sue Gray report last Wednesday has turned into a stream.
Three more emerged on Monday, including Elliot Colburn, one of the 2019 Seven, who confirmed he had sent a no-confidence letter to the chairmanship of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers in the prime minister.
This brings it to 28 Tory lawmakers who have publicly asked the PM to go over the Partygate scandal.
Former Conservative leader Lord Hague reacted to Dame Andrea’s comments by telling Times Radio: “The fuse is getting closer to the dynamite here and it’s getting louder.”
He said the PM is in “real trouble” when senior Tories like Dame Andrea and Sir Bob Neill come out against him.
Lord Hague said it looked like Mr Johnson could face a leadership vote “next week or the end of June”.
A total of 54 letters – 10% of Tory MPs – must be submitted to Sir Graham Brady to trigger a leadership vote, and he is the only person who knows how many have been submitted.
Before the threshold met for a leadership vote in Theresa May, only 24 lawmakers had disclosed that they had submitted a letter, but had actually submitted 48 or more letters.
Downing Street is preparing for a possible leadership vote, which is unlikely to take place this week because MPs are on recess.
Some lawmakers have said they will not express their opinion on the conclusion of the Sue Gray report until after recess, which has sparked speculation in Westminster that more letters will be handed out next week.