A Tory peer has resigned as a justice minister over Covid law-breaking in Downing Street.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were fined for attending a party in No 10 during lockdown.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, Lord David Wolfson criticised the “official response” to “repeated rule-breaking”.
He is the first person to quit the government since reports of lockdown parties emerged.
In his resignation letter, Lord Wolfson said the “scale, context and nature” of Covid breaches in government was inconsistent with the rule of law.
My letter to the Prime Minister today. pic.twitter.com/lADCvKDKbB— David Wolfson (@DXWQC) April 13, 2022
He added that he had “no option” other than to resign, given his “ministerial and professional obligations” in this area.
“It is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your own conduct,” he wrote to the PM. “It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what took place.”
Opposition parties have said Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak must quit after being fined for attending the event in June 2020.
The fine meant Mr Johnson became the UK’s first serving prime minister to be sanctioned for an offence under criminal law.
But he and Mr Sunak have rejected calls to resign, instead insisting they wanted to get on with their jobs.
Cabinet ministers have backed the pair, while two Conservative MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson to stand down.
Conservative MP Nigel Mills was the first to do so, saying it was “unacceptable” that Mr Johnson had broken rules which he himself had set during the pandemic.
And Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker called for the prime minister and chancellor to “do the right thing and resign” during a Facebook Q&A with his constituents, saying “you can’t set the law of the lands and then break them as they have”.
But he said he would not be putting in a letter to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, which would trigger a leadership vote once 54 letters are reached, saying he wanted the government to focus on issues such as the war in Ukraine and cost of living crisis.
Barrister Lord Wolfson has been a justice minister since December 2020, with responsibility for human rights and the constitution.
Boris Johnson said he was “sorry to receive” Lord Wolfson’s resignation and praised his contribution to reforms of the legal system.
Wolfson’s resignation will reignite questions about Johnson’s leadership, coming hours after the Conservative MP Nigel Mills said publicly that he would submit a letter of no confidence in the prime minister.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab described Lord Wolfson as a “world-class lawyer” and said he would be “sorely missed” in government.
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