Senior Brexiteer Steve Baker tells Boris Johnson to resign over partygate saga, saying 'the gig is up'

Senior Brexiteer Steve Baker tells Boris Johnson to resign over partygate saga, saying 'the gig is up'
Steve Baker MP has called on Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister.Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images
  • Senior Brexiteer Steve Baker has told Boris Johnson he should resign, saying "the gig is up."
  • Highlighting his Christian faith, Baker cited a Bible verse which begins: "The end is now upon you."

Boris Johnson has been told to quit by senior Conservative MPs, including one of Parliament's most ardent Brexiteers.

On Thursday, MPs are debating whether Johnson should be referred to the House of Commons' privilege committee, which would then determine if he knowingly misled Parliament.

Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister and vice-chair of the COVID Recovery Group told the Commons he would be backing Labour's motion, telling the prime minister: "The gig is up."

Highlighting his Christian beliefs, the MP said he had felt obliged to forgive, but admitted to feeling "much more Ezekiel 7-3 about this," a reference to a Bible passage that reads: "The end is now upon you, and I will unleash my anger against you."

Baker, who had defended Johnson in the Commons on Tuesday, told MPs his mind had been changed after the prime minister's subsequent appearance before the Tory 1922 committee, saying his contrition "only lasted as long as it took to get out of the headmaster's study."


Baker added: "For not obeying the letter and the spirit – and I think we have heard that the Prime Minister did know what the letter was – the prime minister now should be long gone.

"I will certainly vote for this motion but really the prime minister should just know the gig is up."

Anthony Mangnall, the MP for Totnes who has also previously submitted a letter, said he forgave Johnson for making mistakes "but I do not forgive him for misleading the House". Confirming he would back the motion, he said only that he was disappointed it would allow for a further delay.

William Wragg, chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, also said he would also back the opposition motion, telling MPs: "Much though I may have tried, I cannot reconcile myself to the prime minister's continued leadership of our country and the Conservative Party."

The MP confirmed he had submitted a letter of no confidence last December, when he had decided "the prime minister was no longer fit to govern."


Wragg, who has previously accused Johnson's team of intimidating and blackmailing MPs, said colleagues were struggling with the "toxic attitude" caused by his leadership, and being asked to "defend the indefensible."

He revealed that he had "questioned my place in this party in recent months" but added: "I am going nowhere."

Praising his statement, senior Labour MP and privileges committee chair Chris Bryant – who yesterday recused himself from any probe – stressed the need for colleagues to move on, and focus on Russia and Ukraine.

He added: "You need at a moment of national and international crisis, a leader of completely and utterly unimpeachable moral authority. I don't think we have that at the moment. I don't think we have that by a long chalk."

Their comments come after former chief whip Mark Harper published his letter of no confidence Tuesday, telling MPs that Johnson "hasn't been straightforward … I'm very sorry to have to say this, but I no longer think he is worthy of the great office that he holds."


Government allows a free vote

Senior Brexiteer Steve Baker tells Boris Johnson to resign over partygate saga, saying 'the gig is up'
Boris Johnson is under fire over the partygate saga.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Shortly before the debate began the Government withdrew an amendment, which was only announced the night before. The amendment would have ensured any MP-led investigation was delayed until after the police investigation and report by senior civil servant Sue Gray has concluded.

The three-line whip has also been dropped, meaning it is a free vote and now expected to be "nodded" through.

One backbencher said it had been withdrawn because the "party is too grumpy," and due to the prospect of a damaging number of abstentions.

However, Johnson received support from several MPs including Sir Bill Cash, Felicity Buchan, Alexander Stafford and Danny Kruger during Thursday's debate.

Sir Peter Bottomley, the father of the House, claimed Labour was seeking to use the row to gain an advantage ahead of local elections on May 5.


Sources told Insider they anticipated more letters of no confidence to be submitted, raising the prospect that Johnson will face a vote on his leadership once again.

Speaking to Sky News on a trip to India, Johnson said the amendment had been ditched because "people were saying it looks like we are trying to stop stuff. I didn't want that. I didn't want people to be able say that. I don't want this thing to endlessly go on. But, I have absolutely nothing, frankly, to hide."

Responding to Baker's comments, he added: "I understand people's feelings. I don't think that is the right thing to do."