U.K. lawmaker quits government over toxic 'partygate' culture

LONDON (Reuters) – A Conservative lawmaker quit his role as an assistant to Britain's interior minister on Friday, saying his work had been tarnished by the "toxic culture" in Downing Street that was detailed by investigations into lockdown-busting parties.

A damning official report on Wednesday documented a series of illegal COVID-19 lockdown parties at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office. Johnson said he took responsibility for the events but refused to quit.

Conservative lawmaker Paul Holmes said he was resigning from his government role as parliamentary private secretary at the Home Office to focus on representing his constituents.

"It is clear to me that a deep mistrust in both the government and the Conservative Party has been created by these events … It is distressing to me that this work on your behalf has been tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated Number 10," he said in a statement.

"Over the last few weeks this distress has led me to conclude that I want to continue to focus solely on my efforts in being your Member of Parliament … That is why I have now resigned from my governmental responsibilities."

Other Conservative lawmakers have said they had submitted letters calling for a confidence vote in Johnson to the chairman of the party's 1922 Committee which would be triggered if 54 such letters are written.

Holmes confirmed to Reuters he had not written a letter to call for Johnson to resign.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Elizabeth Piper; editing by Michael Holden)

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