A former attorney general has become the latest Conservative MP to call on Boris Johnson to resign.
In a 2,300 statement on his website – which was swiftly deleted and then republished – Jeremy Wright said that Johnson remaining as prime minister would hurt the process of “restoring faith in good government”.
He added: “I have with regret concluded that for the good of this and future governments, the prime minister should resign.”
Wright is the latest of at least 25 Tory MPs to call on Johnson to go, with several calling for the prime minister’s ouster following the publication of Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal last week.
The Kenilworth and Southam MP, said there is “clear evidence” that Johnson “has been negligent”.
He said: “In my view there is clear evidence he has been negligent.
“I believe he could and should have done more to satisfy himself that assurance he had been given, and that he was in turn giving to parliament, were indeed correct.”
He said that the “routine disregard” within Downing Street for Covid rules “betrayed at best a casual and at worst a contemptuous attitude to the sacrifices made and distress felt for the many who observed rigorously both the spirit and letter of those rules”.
Wright added: “I find it impossible to accept that the prime minister does not bear personal responsibility for that tone.”
An attorney general and culture secretary under Theresa May, Wright was sacked when Johnson took office in 2019. He claimed the events uncovered by Gray “have done real and lasting damage to the reputation not just of this government but to the institutions and authority of government more generally”.
And he warned that Downing Street rule-breaking would make Britons “less likely” to follow government guidance in future emergencies.
“Many will say that if senior government officials don’t keep to the rules, why should I?” he said.
“Putting that right matters hugely to the essence of government authority and to the effectiveness of government policy, and I cannot see that the moving on of civil servants or apologies, however heartfelt, will succeed in doing so.
“Accountability and restoring faith in good government require something more, both to safeguard future public compliance with government instructions when it counts and to allow the present government to deliver the important legislation it has introduced, including vital changes to social care funding, energy security and online regulation.
“It now seems to me that the prime minister remaining in office will hinder those crucial objectives. I have therefore, with regret, concluded that, for the good of this and future governments, the prime minister should resign.”