The Prime Minister has insisted no Covid rules were broken – but he hasn’t convinced many (Picture: Getty)
Boris Johnson was under increasing pressure to resign on Wednesday evening amid a snowballing scandal about Christmas parties at Downing Street last winter.
More than half of the public and a third of Conservative voters want the Prime Minister to stand down, according to damning new polling which also reveals that people do not believe his denials.
Anger is growing after ITV published a leaked video showing Number 10 aides joking about the festive bash, which they then went on to deny ever took place.
Mr Johnson is accused of making a speech at one of the gatherings, which he claims to be unaware of, despite them taking place in his own home.
Now polling from Savanta Comres shows 54% of the public say he should resign and 76% believe he should apologise over the row.
Some 30% believe he stay on as PM and 15% that he should not say sorry, with the rest undecided.
Mr Johnson said earlier: ‘I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it (the video) has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression it gives.’
But the public’s lack of trust in Mr Johnson – whose relationship with the truth has been questioned throughout his career – was also laid bare in another damaging poll.
According to an Opinium survey for Sky News, less than one in ten people believe Number 10’s claim that no party took place in Downing Street last December during lockdown – with other alleged parties in November not even referenced.
He said: ‘I am going to get on with the job.’
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer called for Mr Johnson to apologise, while Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged him to ‘come clean’.
But attacks also came from his own side, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross saying Mr Johnson should not continue as PM if he is found to have misled Parliament over an alleged party in Downing Street last year.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Ross said it is ‘undeniable’ that ‘some sort of party’ had taken place last December.
The Prime Minister has been under pressure over the issue in the past week, but he said in the Commons on Wednesday that he has been assured no party took place – although he has ordered the Cabinet Secretary to investigate the matter.
Mr Ross said of Mr Johnson: ‘If he knew there was a party, if he knew it took place, then he cannot come to the House of Commons and say there was no party.
‘That would be a very serious allegation if that were to be the outcome of the inquiry, and we’d have to see the outcome of the inquiry before we speculate on that.
‘But anyone who says there wasn’t a party, but knew about it and said in Parliament there was no party has misled Parliament.
‘That is a serious charge and you cannot continue in the highest office in the land if you’ve done that.’
Mr Ross said there are ‘serious questions’ which need to be answered in the wake of the allegations.
He added: ‘The guidance was crystal clear, there was no ambiguity – it said no Christmas lunches, no Christmas parties – that’s what people in Downing Street were telling the public to follow, yet it seems people within that building weren’t doing that themselves.’
Despite saying earlier on Wednesday that he has confidence in the Prime Minister and still trusts him, the Scottish Tory leader acknowledged the episode has weakened the Conservative Party.
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Mr Ross was just one of the senior Tories to criticise Mr Johnson’s handling of the issue, with former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson branding it ‘pathetic’.
Elsewhere, some punters have been betting that Mr Johnson may end up resigning this year.
But Peter Watton, a spokesman at OddsMonkey, said: ‘With the recent scandalous revelation that a Christmas party was held at No.10 during last year’s coronavirus restrictions, many people are calling for Boris Johnson to resign. However, the latest odds show Boris is still predicted to stay on until 2024, showing he may have avoided yet another scandal unscathed.
‘It’s clear to see from Google Trends data that the public is outraged and following the story very closely.’
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