UK Conservative lawmaker says will call for confidence vote on PM

Ministerial Statement on Sue Gray's report from British PM Johnson, in London
British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks following a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sue Gray's report regarding the alleged Downing Street parties during COVID-19 lockdown, in the House of Commons in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. UK Parliament/UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Senior Conservative lawmaker Tobias Ellwood said he would submit a letter of no confidence in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, saying so-called 'partygate' was distracting the government at a time of international crisis.

Johnson is facing calls to resign after weeks of a steady drip of reports alleging his aides, and he himself, had staged and attended parties in his Downing Street office and residence at a time when millions of Britons were under COVID-19 lockdowns.

Ellwood, chair of parliament's defence select committee and a former junior minister, was the latest Conservative lawmaker to say he would submit a letter of no confidence in Johnson.

"It's time to resolve this so the party can get back to governing and yes ... I will be submitting my letter today to the 1922 Committee," Ellwood said, referring to a group which represents lawmakers who do not have government jobs.

A confidence vote can be triggered if 15% of the 359 Conservative members of parliament write letters demanding one to the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Ellwood said the scandals were distracting from Britain's response to major issues such as the crisis in Ukraine.

"I believe it's time for the prime minister to take a grip of this. He himself should call a vote of confidence rather than waiting for the inevitable 54 letters to be actually submitted," Ellwood told Sky News.

"This is just horrible for all MPs to continuously have to defend this to the British public ... And the question now is for all of us, is the prime minister, the best person to lead the party moving forward?"

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alistair Smout

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