The publication of the Sue Gray report has laid bare the culture of chaos and rule breaking that Boris Johnson presides over as Prime Minister.
Parties until 4am, karaoke machines, wine split, vomiting and a fight are all what Boris Johnson would have us believe were “necessary for work”
Security staff who tried to break up these illegal gatherings and cleaning staff who had to clean up the mess were mocked.
Contrary to what Boris Johnson has said there is clear evidence that people were very aware that rules were being broken with one official warning “I don’t see how we can have some kind of party” and another bragging that they had “got away with” it.
All this at a time when Britain was under strict lockdown and relatives weren’t allowed to say goodbye to dying loved ones.
It won’t surprise you to hear that I believe Boris Johnson should resign as a result of these damning revelations but I’m also aware that, as a member of a different political party to him, my views might just be dismissed as “playing politics”.
So, I want to use the rest of this column to highlight what members of Boris Johnson’s own party have said since the publication of the Gray report to show that many of them have simply had enough of him too.
John Baron, Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay: “Given the scale of rule-breaking … [Boris Johnson’s] repeated assurances in Parliament that there was no rule-breaking is simply not credible. … A bedrock principle of our constitution is that we can trust the responses we receive in Parliament to be truthful and accurate … To knowingly mislead [Parliament] cannot be tolerated, no matter the issue.”
Alicia Kearns, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton: “The Prime Minister was complicit in the holding of many goodbye parties for his staff, which we now know displayed a complete disregard for restrictions and were complete with vomiting, fighting and bullying … To say we just need to ‘move on’ is to treat with contempt and disregard the sacrifices of the people of … our entire country. … I can only conclude that the Prime Minister’s account of events to Parliament was misleading.”
Sir Bob Neill, Conservative MP for Bromley and Chair of the Commons Justice Committee: “I have listened carefully to the explanations the Prime Minister has given … and, regrettably, do not find his assertions to be credible … Trust is the most important commodity in politics, but these events have undermined trust in not just the office of the prime minister, but in the political process itself. To rebuild that trust and move on, a change in leadership is required”
Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer: “… The Prime Minister has presided over a widespread culture of disregard for coronavirus regulations … This is clearly a time when we cannot have any doubt over the honesty, integrity, and personal character of the Prime Minister … I am now unable to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt and feel it is now in the public interest for him to resign.”
David Simmonds, Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner: “It is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government in ensuring that our people and country prosper.”
Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon: “I cannot and will not defend the indefensible … we cannot move on without regaining public trust and I am not sure that’s possible in the current situation.”
I was also struck by a piece written by Ruth Davidson, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives: “I have found it incomprehensible that a Prime Minister asking for so much sacrifice from so many, would not just preside over, but participate in, such flagrant and widespread rule breaking. For me, if you aren’t leading by example in a time of national crisis, then you aren’t leading at all.
“To have the government – from the Prime Minister down – seek to explain away many of these events as ‘leaving dos’ that were simply an extension of the working day treats the country like fools.
“The goings on in Downing Street at a time of national crisis were unforgiveable. …. Why Conservative MPs are sitting on their hands, I do not know.”
It is certainly the case that not all Conservative MPs are speaking out. Here in Suffolk, with the honourable exception of Peter Aldous, MPs who are normally never short of a quote have been conspicuous by their silence.
Perhaps they should reflect on a final quote, attributed to the Conservative philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing”.