Monday, 23 May 2022

PM should not quit over No 10 parties, say senior Tories

SENIOR Conservatives in the Henley area say Boris Johnson shouldn’t resign over the No 10 parties scandal.

The Prime Minister has faced calls from opposition politicians and even some of his own MPs following a series of boozy gatherings in Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Mr Johnson apologised in the House of Commons last week but could still face more pressure to resign when senior civil servant Sue Gray has completed her investigation into the affair.

Some of the fiercest criticism has come from the families and friends of people who died from covid-19 but were unable to attend funerals because of the restrictions.

Party members in Mr Johnson’s former constituency have criticised him but do not think he should leave office.

Henley town councillor Will Hamilton said: “Things happened that weren’t right clearly but apologies have been made and hopefully they can sort themselves out.

“I do feel sorry for the people who have lost loved ones.

“Clearly No 10 needs to get things in order and I’m sure it will. I don’t think Boris should resign because there are many things he did get right and no one saw the pandemic coming.”

Fellow councillor Laurence Plant said: “My honest opinion is we were all doing the same to some extent. Everyone was having a glass of wine in the garden — we’re all human.

“There are bigger problems we should be focusing on right now rather than something that happened over a year ago.

“I remember Henley at the time — the river was awash with people having barbecues with their mates and drinking down by the water.

“But if you’re the Prime Minister you need to be cleaner than clean and you need to say sorry and mean it and Boris has done neither.

“It’s very challenging when you’ve been caught like he has as you need to be able to say, ‘I’m sorry and I’m wrong,’ and he’s not doing that.

“Ultimately, I think people should move on but that’s not me saying that what he did was okay.”

Paul Harrison, a member of the Henley Conservatives and a former South Oxfordshire district councillor, said Mr Johnson was in the “last chance saloon”.

He said: “Boris needs to get it under control and sort out the mess that is happening in No 10.

“They’d worked extremely long hours and wanted to blow off some steam but at the same time you can’t tell people they can’t do certain things and then break the rules yourself.

“I think it’s what we call ‘the last chance saloon’ for Boris. A lot will depend on the results of this investigation but even without these facts he obviously needs to take control of his people urgently.

“However, we seem to be coming out of covid quicker than other countries and because of that, by the time the election comes, he could still win. I think he may be able to weather this storm but let’s see what happens.”

Former Henley Mayor Julian Brookes said he was “disappointed” by the scandal and wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Johnson resigned.

“I don’t think our PM has covered himself in glory,” he said. “I think the one thing that really does disappoint me, having been a member of the military, is the thought of the Prime Minister partying before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral — it does make you swallow very hard. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when the Queen has her weekly talk with the Prime Minister.

“I’m a little concerned that there seems to be a lot of alcohol consumed at No 10 and I do think he was quite right to apologise.

“However, for the Prime Minister to resign is a pretty monumental event. It’s very easy for people to say, ‘Oh he should resign’ but it’s a very serious matter that needs very careful consideration. If he did I wouldn’t be surprised but it’s up to those around the Cabinet table to determine whether he should resign or not.”

Lorraine Hillier, a town and district councillor, defended Mr Johnson.

She said: “Obviously someone has sat on this for a long time so why is it only emerging now? I think there has been too much bias from the BBC and I think the knives are out for Boris — it’s unnecessary.

“He has done a lot of good and I think he’ll continue to do so. I just think everyone should leave him alone. He was a good MP for Henley and I support him still.

“I just think people should leave him alone and I think everybody is fed up hearing about it now.”

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