A U.K. government justice minister quit after Boris Johnson was fined by police for breaching Britain’s coronavirus rules.
Tory peer David Wolfson, known as Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, on Wednesday became the first minister to resign from Johnson’s government over the so-called Partygate scandal, which has seen Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak both fined for attending parties in Downing Street while coronavirus restrictions were in place across the country.
In a letter to the prime minister, Wolfson said he had come to the conclusion that the “scale, context and nature of those breaches” of the law meant “it would be inconsistent with the rule of law for that conduct to pass with constitutional impunity.”
He added: “I have concluded that, consistently with both my ministerial and professional obligations to support and uphold the rule of law, I have no option other than to tender my resignation.”
Johnson has been accused of attending multiple parties in Downing Street during lockdown, including a birthday party on June 19 2020 to which the fine relates.
Though opposition parties have called for Johnson to resign, 54 of his Conservative MPs would be required to sign a letter of no confidence to trigger an internal vote on his future.
Wolfson’s resignation came just hours after a Tory MP broke ranks to call for Johnson to quit. Nigel Mills, a backbench MP, told the BBC the prime minister’s position was no longer “tenable.”
However, other Conservative MPs — including his senior ministers — have rallied around Johnson, citing the war in Ukraine.
In a reference to that conflict, Wolfson said in his resignation letter that Britain could only “credibly defend democratic norms abroad” if the government is seen to be “resolutely committed both to the observance of the law and also to the rule of law.”