Boris Johnson faces questions about parties at Downing Street

By Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:10 p.m. ET, January 26, 2022
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8:57 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

62% of British adults say Boris Johnson should resign, poll shows

From CNN’s Richard Allen Greene in London

About two-thirds (62%) of British adults say Boris Johnson should resign as Prime Minister, according to a Survation poll released Wednesday.

It’s the third poll in the past two weeks to find that result, following a Savanta ComRes poll released on Jan. 11 (66%) and an Opinium survey released on Jan. 15 (63%).

Survation interviewed 1,117 UK adults online on Jan. 25, the day that the London Metropolitan Police announced they were investigating gatherings at Johnson’s Downing Street office. 

The survey found three out of 10 respondents (29%) said he should not resign. 

The margin of error on the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

8:21 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

Here's what we learned at this week’s PMQs

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee at the House of Commons

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London on January 26.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London on January 26. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

Prime Minister's Questions revealed very little, other than that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s future is still in the hands of what senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report on the alleged lockdown gatherings contains — and that very little will happen until that report is published.

The Conservative support for Johnson was more solid than last week, which suggests that the confidence vote in Johnson is not coming any time before the report is published.

This is somewhat extraordinary, given little over a week ago such a vote seemed imminent.

Curiously, it’s possible both parties are happy with this stasis.

For the Conservatives, it builds more hype around the report, making it more likely to fall flat when we finally see it. Members of Parliament still want Johnson to lead the party during May's local election, but not out of loyalty. They don’t want to lump a difficult election on a new leader and kick off their premiership with a negative.

If they are to remove him from power, they want to do so in the summer recess.

For the Labour Party, the longer Johnson dodges questions and clings to power, the more they can paint him as a shameless charlatan compared to the professional, calm and competent opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.

This week’s PMQs was less rowdy than last week, and despite everything that is happening, it seemed to only show that the partisan trenches are being dug ever deeper.

And it’s now clear that UK politics is essentially on hold until we finally get to see this report.

8:08 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

All eyes are on Sue Gray's report, expert says

Senior civil servant Sue Gray has been conducting an inquiry — at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request – into reports of various parties at his Downing Street office and garden in violation of Covid-19 restrictions in 2020. The report could determine the next set of decisions from the Conservatives in the parliament, according to Richard Johnson, a Politics lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.

"The report matters because if it has negative ramifications in the public arena that will put pressure on MPs" to remove Johnson, he explained. "Simple majority of conservative MPs can remove the prime minister in a vote of no confidence in his leadership, and that's really, they are the gatekeepers of Boris Johnson's leadership." 

While the Conservatives have been sitting tight, the "drip, drip, drip" on this story has been relentless, the expert added.

"Ultimately, Boris Johnson's trying to make the pitch that 'you might not like what I did, maybe I regret what I did, but I'm carrying the program forward, and I'm the one to do it.' Whether he's credible on that claim and whether those claims are robust claims is a different matter. But that's the pitch," he told CNN.

8:19 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

UK prime minister says he can't comment on police investigation

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on January 26.
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on January 26. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

Speaking about the police investigation into alleged Downing Street parties, opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer asked Johnson: “Does the Prime Minister really not understand the damage his behavior is doing to our country?”

Johnson said there is no way he could “comment on the investigation.”

Yesterday, London's Metropolitan Police announced it is investigating reported gatherings at Downing Street and Cornwall during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Westminster’s Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Ian Blackford told the House of Commons that the UK has a prime minister who is being investigated by the police “for breaking his own laws," calling Johnson "a man who demeans the office of prime minister.”

7:32 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

UK PM Boris Johnson says he won't resign

From CNN's Sarah Dean

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers Wednesday he won't resign over the Downing Street lockdown party scandal, in response to a question from opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer during the Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament.

Starmer also asked Johnson to confirm he would publish the Sue Gray report in full. Gray, a senior civil servant, is conducting an inquiry – at the prime minister's request – into reports of the various parties.

Johnson hedged on the question.

“We’ve got to leave the report to the independent investigators… of course when I receive it, I will do what I said,” Johnson told lawmakers during PMQs.  

Starmer added, “The reality is that we now have the shameful spectacle of a Prime Minister of United Kingdom being subject to a police investigation, unable to lead the country, incapable of doing the right thing and every day his Cabinet fail to speak out, they become more and more complicit.”

8:16 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

Johnson is responding to allegations during PMQs in Parliament

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on January 26.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on January 26. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister is facing questioning by members of Parliament during Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer is currently grilling Johnson about a number of events that were reportedly held at Downing Street in possible violations of Covid-19 lockdown.

The Metropolitan Police announced yesterday it has launched an investigation.

7:20 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

The parliamentary rebellion is growing against Boris Johnson

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under pressure for weeks over alleged summer garden parties and Christmas gatherings held in Downing Street when the rest of the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdowns. A report into the allegations, set to be released this week, could be the final straw for Johnson's increasingly mutinous party.

The parliamentary rebellion is growing. One Conservative MP defected to the opposition Labour Party last week and newspapers have reported rumors of more lawmakers demanding Johnson's exit.

On Thursday, as more Conservative lawmakers openly criticized the prime minister about the parties, allegations emerged of blackmail and bullying by government officials.

Conservative MP William Wragg said Thursday that "a number of members of parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister."

Wragg told the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that the reports he has been made aware of "would seem to constitute blackmail."

Johnson dismissed the reports of bullying, saying he has "seen no evidence" to support accusations of intimidation leveled at his government by a Conservative lawmaker.

Under Conservative party rules, if MPs want to get rid of their leader, they submit a confidential letter of no confidence to the chair of the 1922 Committee, a group of backbench MPs who do not hold government posts. The process is murky -- the letters are kept secret and the chairman, Graham Brady, doesn't even reveal how many have been handed in.

When 15% of Conservative lawmakers have submitted letters, it triggers a vote of confidence among all Conservative lawmakers.

CNN's Luke McGee, Lauren Kent, Duarte Mendonca, Richard Allen Greene, Robert Iddiols and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this report.

8:23 a.m. ET, January 26, 2022

Boris Johnson faces a make-or-break moment with report due into "partygate" scandal

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly PMQs in the House of Commons on January 26 in London, England.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly PMQs in the House of Commons on January 26 in London, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under pressure for weeks over alleged summer garden parties and Christmas gatherings held in Downing Street when the rest of the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdowns. A report into the allegations, set to be released this week, could be the final straw for Johnson's increasingly mutinous party.

Johnson's approval ratings are plunging, and there appears to be a growing sense among some parts of his ruling Conservative Party that he is becoming a liability. Two polls in the last week suggested that as many as two-thirds of voters want him to resign.

The parliamentary rebellion is growing. One Conservative MP defected to the opposition Labour Party last week and newspapers have reported rumors of more lawmakers demanding Johnson's exit.

The Prime Minister has given unconvincing answers when asked about the numerous parties. First he said there were none. Once undeniable evidence emerged, he denied knowing about the gatherings. When a photo of him at one such event was published, he insisted he didn't realize the gathering was a party, claiming he "believed implicitly that this was a work event."

Johnson was even forced to apologize to the Queen after it emerged that a party was held in Downing Street the night before the funeral of Prince Philip. It was noted at the time that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Queen was forced to mourn her husband at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle while sitting alone.

On Monday, a spokesperson said Johnson celebrated his birthday with a gathering at his official residence in June 2020 while the UK was in its first Covid-19 lockdown, marking the latest scandal for the country's leader.

CNN's Luke McGee, Lauren Kent, Duarte Mendonca, Richard Allen Greene, Robert Iddiols and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this report.