BORIS Johnson has insisted he will stay in office, despite a growing Tory revolt against his leadership.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, he said he had a ‘colossal mandate’ from the 2019 election and would ‘keep going’.
So far, since yesterday 34 Tories had quit government or party positions, with other backbenchers withdrawing their support.
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer said the Conservatives had become a ‘corrupted party defending the indefensible’.
Johnson’s premiership has been plunged into crisis following the dramatic resignations of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
They quit within minutes of each other on Tuesday, following a row over Johnson’s decision to appoint Chris Pincher deputy chief whip earlier this year.
Their departures has triggered a wave of further departures, with Justice Minister Victoria Atkins among the ministers quitting on yesterday.
At PMQs, Labour leader Starmer took aim at ministers who have resigned in recent days, saying their decision not to quit before now showed they lacked a ‘shred of integrity’.
The Labour leader rounded on those who have stayed in post, mocking them as a ‘Z list cast of nodding dogs’, keeping the PM in power.
He added they were ‘only in office because no-one else is prepared to debase themselves any longer’, calling them the ‘charge of the lightweight brigade’.
Tory backbencher Gary Sambrook accused the PM of blaming other people for his mistakes and was applauded after calling on him to resign.
Fellow backbencher David Davis, who dramatically called on Johnson to step down in January, repeated his plea for him to quit before ‘it becomes impossible for government to do its job’.
But Johnson defied calls for him to go, adding he would ‘continue to deliver on the mandate I was given’.
‘The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances, when he’s been handed a colossal mandate, is to keep going – and that’s what I’m going to do.’
At the end of PMQs, Johnson’s former Health Secretary Sajid Javed, who had resigned from his government on Tuesday night, stood up to give his resignation speech.
Javid said: ‘When the first stories of parties at Downing Street emerged late last year I was personally assured at the most senior level by my Right Honourable Friend’s then team, and I quote, “there had been no parties in Downing Street and no rules were broken”…
‘And now this week again we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we’ve all been told.
‘And at some point we have to conclude that enough is enough. I believe that point is now…
‘I fear that the reset button can only work so many times. There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on-off before you realise that something is fundamentally wrong.
‘Last month I gave the benefit of doubt one last time. But I have concluded that the problem starts at the top and that is not going to change. That means that those of us in a position who have responsibility have to make that change.’
Labour leader Starmer asked PM Johnson whether he had described the former deputy chief whip as ‘Pincher by name, Pincher by nature. Yes or no?’
Johnson replied that he was ‘not going to trivialise what happened’, and said the fact that Pincher continued in government was ‘a matter of great regret’ for him.
During PMQs Johnson was challenged to quit by three Tory MPs, including former Cabinet Minister David Davies, who urged him to ‘do the honourable thing and go!’