There should be a “high bar” to get rid of a sitting prime minister, a senior Tory said after Boris Johnson refused to say if he would quit if found to have broken coronavirus laws.
Business Minister Paul Scully said he would need to “see the context” of any findings against Mr Johnson before making a decision on the Tory leader’s future.
His comments follow reports that at least two Cabinet ministers will withdraw support from the Prime Minister if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice for flouting the restrictions imposed by his Government.
The Prime Minister has completed a police questionnaire in relation to alleged parties held in Downing Street while England was under tough coronavirus restrictions.
In a major television interview on Sunday, he repeatedly refused to say whether he would quit if he broke the law.
On Sky News, Mr Scully said there should be a “real high bar to get rid of any prime minister”.
He said he would want to see the full findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation into the partygate row, along with the outcome of the Metropolitan Police investigation, before making any decision on the Prime Minister’s future.
“I’m going to wait until I see context before I really make any more judgment on it,” he said.
But The Times reported that at least two members of Mr Johnson’s top ministerial team would turn against the Prime Minister if he was found to have broken the law.
Sources speaking on behalf of two unnamed members of the Cabinet said that Mr Johnson’s position would become untenable in those circumstances.
One of the sources told The Times: “If he gets an FPN he’ll have to go. How can you have a prime minister who has been found guilty of breaking the law?”
A minister and close ally of a second cabinet member said: “If the Met’s conclusion is effectively that he broke the regulations, then it makes his position extremely difficult.
“It’s going to be very difficult for him to stay, especially if it’s for a party in the No 10 flat.”
The Prime Minister will hope that scrapping England’s remaining coronavirus rules will help win back support from Tory MPs who have been at odds with him over the measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
But Andrew Bridgen, a prominent critic who has submitted a formal letter saying he has no confidence in Mr Johnson to the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said ending the legal restrictions would not change his mind.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “The Prime Minister has done the right thing with regard to the Covid restrictions and that doesn’t change the status of my letter of no confidence.”
Meanwhile, a Conservative donor said he cannot see himself voting for the party unless there is a “complete change of tack”.
Sir Rocco Forte, a hotelier, said he had been disappointed in the Government’s approach to coronavirus restrictions and tax.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “My disappointment with the Prime Minister and this Government is it’s not acting as a Conservative Government.
“Instead of reducing regulations, increasing it, instead of lowering taxes, it’s increasing them, and now as a lot of businesses who’ve suffered heavily through the pandemic and have become more heavily indebted as a result are facing increased national insurance
costs and increased corporate taxes, and it’s completely the wrong way to approach the situation.”
Asked whether he had stopped donating to the party, he said: “Well, I mean, you don’t donate every five minutes to the party.”
Asked whether it was on pause, he said: “Yes… I’d like to see a complete change of tack by this Government and if it doesn’t change tack then I won’t be even interested in voting for them. “
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