MPs from Portsmouth region 'deeply disappointed' by Downing Street parties as confidence in Boris Johnson is questioned

AS A Labour MP for the city calls for the prime minster to resign amid the Downing Street parties controversy, Conservative MPs across the region mull over their confidence in Boris Johnson as the leader of the country.

By Richard Lemmer and Fiona Callingham
Monday, 17th January 2022, 7:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 8:00 am

The prime minister is under increasing pressure after it was alleged that several parties and social events had been held in his home, garden, and office at 10 Downing Street in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.

The prime minister’s office was forced to apologise for social gatherings held the night before Prince Philip’s funeral last year, which was severely limited due to Covid-19 rules.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is leading an investigation into the gatherings, with her findings due to be announced later this week.

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Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure over a series of gatherings in Downing Street which appear to have breached Covid-19 restrictions. Picture: Jeff Gilbert - Pool/Getty Images.

Now, when questioned on BBC Politics South, Conservative MP for Gosport and former culture minister Caroline Dinenage repeatedly dodged questions about her confidence in the PM.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘It’s been a very very difficult few weeks, it really has, and I really feel that those who set the rules must abide by the rules.

‘I heard the prime minister’s apology this week in parliament and I think I’m looking forward very much to hearing the facts when Sue Gray reports but it’s a very difficult time.’

When asked if Boris Johnson would remain as prime minister in a month, Ms Dinenage said ‘a lot of that depends on the outcome’ of the report.

The MP added: I’m well aware that he’s by and large got us through this Covid pandemic, stewarding us quite well through it. However, we cannot have a culture in Downing Street where there’s one rule for the people working there and one rule for everybody else so I’m waiting very clearly to see what happens when the Sue Gray report comes out.’

Meon Valley MP Flick Drummond has also avoided questions regarding her confidence in the leader of the government, saying she was ‘very disappointed to hear the prime minister admit he went to an event with drinks in the garden at Downing Street during the first lockdown’.

She added: ‘I share the concerns of the public about this when so many kept to the rules and made sacrifices to do so.

‘I will now wait to see the findings of the investigation into what happened before I comment further.’

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But attorney general and Fareham MP Suella Braverman said she did have ‘full confidence’ in the prime minister and was ‘disappointed’ to hear about the gatherings.

The MP said: ‘I fully understand people’s anger and disappointment about the parties at No 10 Downing Street during lockdown.

‘We all made huge sacrifices in not seeing family and friends- for celebrations, for funerals, during medical treatment, amongst other situations.

‘I too was disappointed to hear about these events taking place. It is right now that Sue Gray has ample chance to compete her inquiry so that the facts are confirmed and the appropriate action is taken.’

‘I have full confidence in the Prime Minister. He was right to apologise and take responsibility. He has also been delivering for our country successfully.’

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said the prime minister’s conduct was ‘simply not an issue to be sat on the fence’ – and called on Conservative politicians to demand Boris Johnson’s resignation.

Mr Morgan said: ‘People across Portsmouth pulled together to protect lives and livelihoods as we came through some of the darkest months of the pandemic. I’ve heard many heart-breaking stories of the sacrifices families in our city made.

‘Bereaved families, our key workers and all those that diligently followed the rules have been mocked by Boris Johnson. His behaviour is not fit for the office he holds, which is why Portsmouth Labour Group has written to the city’s two most senior Conservative representatives, calling for them to do what’s best for their constituents and publicly demand his resignation. This is simply not an issue to be sat on the fence on.

‘Local Tories need to put the country’s interest ahead of party politics, do the right thing and call for the Prime Minister to resign.’

Conservative MPs Penny Mordaunt, who represents Portsmouth North, and Alan Mak, who represents Havant, were approached for comment.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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