A shock defection by a Conservative MP to the Labour Party has become one of the latest blows to the Government, with Christian Wakeford crossing the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Wakeford, who was elected to the Bury South constituency in 2019 by just 402 votes, called on the Prime Minister to resign and said in a letter to the PM, “You and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.
The MPs defection was welcomed by Labour, though is thought to have caused feelings of upset and betrayal on the Conservative benches, perhaps even unifying the party for a period.
The defection comes amid growing calls for Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister and regular speculation over whether a vote of no confidence in the PM could soon be triggered. In order for a vote to take place, 54 letters of no confidence need to first be submitted to the chairman of the 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady. Exactly when, or if that moment could come, is not known.
While some MPs have publicly called for the Prime Minister to resign, others are said to be waiting for the findings of Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street parties. Sue Gray is a senior civil servant and so not fully independent from the Government, despite some suggestions that she is acting independently in the creation of the report.
During PMQs on Wednesday, Mr Johnson urged MPs to wait for the conclusion of the investigation and also recapped at points achievements of the government during the pandemic. The PM did though also face calls to resign, including from the Government’s own backbenches, from which senior MP David Davis called on the PM to ‘in the name of god, go’.
Fairly major announcements on COVID-19 were also announced in the Commons on Wednesday, though were in large part overshadowed by the continuing party gate situation and questions over the Prime Minister’s leadership.
From next Thursday, England is to revert to Plan A of its coronavirus restrictions, dropping Plan B measures including guidance to work from home and the mandatory requirements for Covid passports and wearing of face coverings. The Prime Minister also said that the Government intended to end the legal requirement for people who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate later this Spring, with him expecting this to take place by 24 March.
Coronavirus infections have been falling in England, however, the numbers of cases do still remain much higher than previous waves of the virus.