Isn’t it time to go Boris? Andy Burnham tells LBC ‘I don’t see how the PM can survive’

19 January 2022, 09:29 | Updated: 19 January 2022, 10:13

By Emma Soteriou

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has told LBC he cannot see a future for Boris Johnson as PM as he battles to survive the partygate scandal.

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Mr Burnham's comments come after the Prime Minister said in a car-crash interview on Tuesday that no-one had told him a party in May 2020 was against the rules, even though he was the arbiter of England's Covid-19 rules.

Answering LBC listeners' calls during a phone-in with Nick Ferrari, Mr Burnham said he knew how hard the job could be but Mr Johnson had made "big misjudgements" which had come to light in the scandal.

"It's honestly hard to see how the Prime Minister survives from here," Mr Burnham said.

He later added that, if he were Labour leader facing Mr Johnson at PMQs today, he would ask him simply: "Isn't it time to go?"

Mr Burnham explained: "It's clear that he's losing the support of people - both in the country and also closer to home in his own party - and we're still in desperate need of leadership."

Read more: At least 20 Tory MPs hatch 'pork pie plot' to oust PM amid partygate fallout

Read more: Boris 'deserves the benefit of the doubt' over partygate scandal, minister insists

However, Mr Burnham said it was not just the partygate scandal that was showing Mr Johnson up, saying he had also failed to deliver on promises made around levelling up the north of England as well.

Within days of him being welcomed into office, Mr Johnson visited Manchester, where he promised a new rail would be introduced. However, it has since been decided that the plans will not go ahead.

"We were told before Christmas that we're not getting that," Mr Burnham said.

"It's things like that which are also in the background here.

"There's a failure to deliver on levelling up, there's a failure to deliver for the north of England and I think that's all playing into the situation that we're in."

He also suggested that Westminster was a big part of the ongoing problems in politics.

"I feel part of the problem is too much focus on Westminster," Mr Burnham said.

"It's just a dysfunctional environment and I think we'll be a happier country and work better politically when there's more power out of Westminster and a less tribal approach to politics."

Mr Johnson is set to face an increasingly angry chorus of his own MPs amid reports 54 letters which would launch a no confidence vote in the PM could be received on Wednesday.

Reports on Tuesday night suggested MPs furious at the Prime Minister's handling of the partygate scandal engulfing Westminster had been angered further by Mr Johnson's insistence that nobody had told him a party at Downing Street would break rules he himself had set.

And that especially those in the 2019 intake, many of whom have slim majorities after votes were "lent" to them during the last election, were preparing to submit their letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady.

"I think [the people] feel strongly about it because that point the Prime Minister made that they had 'lent' their votes to him...I don't think that loan has been repaid at all," Mr Burnham said.

"So it's interesting that the 2019 MPs - the so-called red wall MPs - are leading the rebellion."

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford - who has a majority of just 402 - became the seventh Conservative MP to publicly call for Mr Johnson to go on Tuesday, according to Yahoo News.

But a number of newspapers reported that the plot to oust Mr Johnson was far wider, as the PM will attempt to reassure his party when he appears in the Commons for PMQs on Wednesday.

An expected announcement that Plan B measures to stem the spread of coronavirus will be lifted next week is likely to please some backbenchers.

But MPs from the former so-called Red Wall were said to have met on Tuesday to discuss Mr Johnson's future in a gathering nicknamed the "pork pie plot" or the "pork pie putsch", and one told The Daily Telegraph the 15 per cent of letters needed to trigger a challenge could be reached on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson, who was reported to have spent Tuesday evening in his Commons office meeting with potential rebels, apologised multiple times in a major broadcast interview for the "misjudgments that were made".

But he stuck to his defence that he had thought a "bring your own booze" party held in the No 10 garden on 20 May 2020 had been a work event and he had not been warned about it in advance.

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