A Conservative MP has been criticised after claiming the BBC had launched a “coup attempt” against Boris Johnson.
Michael Fabricant hit out at the public broadcaster after hearing a news bulletin featuring criticism of the prime minister over lockdown parties at Downing Street.
One ex-Tory MP said his claims of a coup were “laughable” and “dangerous” while opposition figures accused him of being “upset” at hearing facts.
The yellow-haired Conservative MP for Lichfield said on Saturday: “BBC Radio 4 Bulletin leads this morning with a manufactured story of what some MPs have said to the BBC.
“This is not news reporting an event. This relentless news creation is a coup attempt against the prime minister.”
Layla Moran, a top Liberal Democrats MP, said: “People died alone whilst No 10 partied it up, this is a fact. Yet, Tory MPs seem more upset with the truth coming out than they do with this endless tide of rule-breaking parties.
“If Michael Fabricant doesn’t like these stories dominating the media, then he should submit his letter of no confidence and tell Boris Johnson to resign.”
And Lord Barwell, who served as Theresa May’s Downing Street chief of staff, said of Mr Fabricant’s comments: “If it wasn’t so dangerous it would be laughable.”
Rejecting warnings from other MPs that their email inboxes were full of criticism of Mr Johnson, Mr Fabricant said he had only “had 31 identical emails from different people calling for Boris to resign” and “about 20 more from constituents with the same call but in their own words”. This was “far fewer than most campaigns” who wrote to their representatives, he said.
Polls of the general public suggest the prime minister is more unpopular than ever before, with his party at least 10 points behind in the polls.
A number of other Conservative MPs, including the leader of the Scottish Tories, have called on Mr Johnson to step down following successive revelations about the party culture at No.10 during the height of the coronavirus lockdown.
Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen on Saturday morning said the prime minister has “lost the moral authority to lead” after presiding over a culture in No 10 of “one rule for them and the rest of us do as we’re told”.
The North West Leicestershire MP told BBC Breakfast: “[This is] not about one isolated incident, what we are seeing with these continued revelations coming out about what’s been going on at No 10 is a pattern of behaviour, and ultimately the buck stops with Boris Johnson.”