The Conservative MP for North West Leicester has become the fifth politician from Boris Johnson’s own party to tell the Prime Minister to quit over “partygate”.
Andrew Bridgen had previously been a loyal supporter of the PM, backing him for the Tory leadership in 2019 and campaigning alongside him for Brexit.
On Thursday evening, the Tory MP joined the chorus of prominent voices calling for Mr Johnson’s resignation, announcing he had submitted a letter of no confidence.
In the wake of revelations about parties held by Downing Street staff during a lockdown which saw families unable to see dying loved ones or attend funerals, Mr Bridgen said the Prime Minister’s position had become “untenable”.
In a Telegraph op-ed published on Thursday evening, Mr Bridgen said there is currently “a moral vacuum at the heart of our government”.
The Tory MP went on to say: “I’m calling on the Prime Minister to stand down, there is time yet to do the right thing.
“In years to come, Boris will be remembered as delivering Brexit and guiding us through a pandemic.
“His legacy shouldn’t become one mired in sleaze but rather one of knowing when the time is right to leave the stage.
“If Boris truly loves our country, our democracy and our party he should go now with some semblance of grace.”
Mr Bridgen, who said he had previously held the PM in great esteem, also spoke of the hurt Mr Johnson caused when he claimed he did not know he was attending a party during a time of strict lockdown.
He added: “Whilst the lie is easily bad enough to make a reasonable person question the Prime Minister’s position, the truth is at least as bad.”
The Tory MP concluded by saying it gave him a “heavy heart” to submit his letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson, who had failed to “lead by example”.
Mr Bridgen is the fifth Conservative MP this week to publicly call for the PM to quit after Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Sir Roger Gale, Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman William Wragg and backbencher Caroline Nokes.
The Telegraph reported that as many as 30 letters have been submitted so far. A total of 54 are needed to trigger a vote.
Mr Ross was the first senior colleague of Mr Johnson’s to directly call for his resignation.
On Wednesday, the Scottish Tory told the PA news agency he was “furious” about the latest allegations of lockdown partying.
He added: “I’m angry. I think that reflects what people across Scotland and the UK are feeling right now.”
Also on Wednesday, Sir Roger Gale confirmed he had also submitted a letter of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee.
Sir Roger told LBC: “If the Prime Minister is not going to take his own exit route with dignity, then the 1922 Committee is going to have words with him.
“He’s done a good job delivering certain things, but I think we’ve now got to the stage where, frankly, we have to find another leader”.
Mr Wragg echoed the sentiments of his Tory colleagues, telling BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that the Prime Minister’s position is “untenable”.
He added that it would be “preferable” for Mr Johnson to go willingly as MPs were “tired” and “frankly worn out of defending what is invariably indefensible”.
Appearing on ITV’s Preston earlier this week, Tory backbencher Ms Nokes said Mr Johnson was “damaging the Conservative brand” and demanded he step aside.
She added: “Regretfully, he looks like a liability and I think he either goes now or he goes in three years’ time at a general election.”