Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would back a general election if Boris Johnson were to resign from Downing Street amid partygate.
Asked on BBC Newsnight if a general election would be necessary if the current prime minister were to resign, the leader of the Commons replied: ”I think it’s a very interesting constitutional point.
“It is my view that we have moved, for better or worse, to an essentially presidential system.
“Therefore the mandate is personal rather than entirely party, and that any prime minister would be very well advised to seek a fresh mandate.
“Gordon Brown didn’t and that didn’t work; Boris Johnson did and that did work.”
Referring to previous prime ministers who were not voted in by the public but by their own party as replacements, he said: “I think the days of Macmillan taking over from Eden or even Callaghan from Wilson no longer get the mood of the constitution and our constitution evolved.
“So my view is that a change of leader requires a general election.”
Newsnight host Kirsty Wark also pointed out that mentioning an election is one of the tactics used by Johnson’s allies to prevent Tory MPs supporting a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, as this could result in the whole Conservative Party losing power.
Rees-Mogg warned Tory backbenchers to “look at the bigger picture” and not “prejudge” the Met’s investigation into some of the parties alleged to have taken place in No.10 during lockdown.
@Jacob_Rees_Mogg declared on #Newsnight that the uK is now a Republic under Presidential Despot Johnson
The @Conservatives have deposed the monarchy, declared a Republic and installed President Johnson who is heralded as above the law#bananarepublic#PMQs#r4todaypic.twitter.com/WmfqMkAPys
— Opt out ASAP to save your NHS data from Palantir (@toadovision) January 26, 2022
Rees-Mogg also refused to be drawn on the alleged surprise birthday party organised for Johnson in No.10 back in June 2020, where staff sang happy birthday and presented him with a Union Jack cake.
He said: “We’re talking about a slice of cake – we have no sense of proportionality...Trying to speculate on bits of gossip and tittle-tattle around the report doesn’t really get us anywhere.”
He also pointed out that the cabinet has a “system of collective responsibility” which means ministers should support the prime minister, while refusing to say Johnson decided not to tell them about the Met’s probe.
This came after No.10′s spokesman confirmed that Johnson did not tell his senior ministers on Tuesday.
- Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Newsnight that he can’t discuss today’s cabinet
- when reminded the PM didn’t tell cabinet about the police investigation he replies “you don’t know anything of the kind”
- except that Downing St spokesman told the entire press about it this morning
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) January 25, 2022
Rees-Mogg also voiced his unequivocal support for Johnson on Tuesday, despite the renewed public backlash over the birthday gathering reports.
He said: “The leadership of Boris Johnson this country has had has been so brilliant, that he has got us through this incredibly difficult period and he has got all the big decisions right.
“We have opened up faster than any other European country and I am honoured to be under his leadership.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg - "The leadership of Boris Johnson... has been so brilliant, that he has got us through this incredibly difficult period, & he has got all the big decisions right.." 🤔 pic.twitter.com/bo9hemimqp
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) January 25, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.