LONDON - Former Brexit Secretary David Davis on Wednesday became the most senior member yet of Britain's ruling Conservative Party to call on embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign, telling him in parliament: "In the name of God, go."
Davis' dramatic comments came during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ) session in parliament and led to audible gasps in the chamber.
Scandal-hit Johnson suffered a bruising PMQ session, with more letters being handed in calling for a leadership election within the party earlier in the day.
Davis, a senior Conservative and former leadership candidate, said in parliament: "I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take. Yesterday, he did the opposite of that."
"So, I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain.
"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go."
Johnson's previously stated excuse for attending a Downing Street party on May 20, 2020 at a time when Britons were prohibited from gathering due to strict coronavirus restrictions was that he implicitly believed it was a work event and that he was neither told of the party beforehand nor that it was in breach of his own lockdown rules.
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said Johnson's excuses were "absurd and frankly unbelievable."
In response to angry questions from lawmakers, Johnson repeatedly refused to resign. Despite a spirited display, his calls for members of parliament (MPs) to await the results of the investigation were met with laughter in the chamber. Johnson has commissioned a report by a civil servant into allegations of parties at Downing Street while the rest of the country was under lockdown.
In a devastating blow to Johnson, Christian Wakeford, one of his MPs, who was elected only in 2019 for Bury South in northern England, defected from his Conservative Party to the Labour Party - and the announcement came just before PMQs.
Wakeford said in his resignation letter: "You (Johnson) and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves."
"I have concluded that the policies of the Conservative government that you lead are doing nothing to help the people of my constituency and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse," he added.
During Prime Minister's Questions, a defiant Johnson said: "The Conservative Party won Bury South for the first time in generations under this prime minister with an agenda of uniting and leveling up and delivering for the people of Bury South. We will win again in Bury South at the next election under this prime minister."
Starmer told Johnson: "I'm determined to build a new Britain which guarantees security, prosperity and respect for all, and I'm delighted that Christian has decided to join us in this endeavor."
If 54 Conservative MPs send in letters calling for a fresh leadership election, one will be automatically held. Just under a dozen letters were sent in today alone, escalating the danger to Johnson's position.
Many MPs on the government's backbenches are thought to be awaiting the outcome of the investigation Johnson commissioned into the lockdown-breaking parties before deciding whether to push for a leadership election. (Anadolu)