I have been contacted by many constituents understandably angered by the revelations that more Downing Street parties took place last year, one of which the Prime Minister himself attended. It is utterly obscene that Downing Street staff were not only encouraged to gather whilst we were in a national lockdown, but to bring their own booze whilst doing so.
Over the last two years I have been contacted by many people who have sacrificed so much trying to do the right thing. People who suffered the loss of loved ones, the new-borns who never got to meet their grandparents, those who were trying to manage the collapse of their businesses, and of course those who have struggled with the crushing loneliness of lockdown. I spoke in Parliament to share my constituents’ anger at the actions of Downing Street, my comments can be viewed here.
The Prime Minister has now said that he didn’t realise he was at a party, an excuse that really stretches all credibility. He wants us to believe that not only did his Private Secretary organise an illegal party in his own garden without his knowledge, but that he then saw 40 people with drinks and snacks and didn’t think anything of it.
It has since been revealed that two other gatherings were hosted while the nation mourned the loss of Prince Philip. The morning after staff at Downing Street partied, Her Majesty The Queen very movingly attended the funeral of Prince Phillip alone. The contrast between the leadership at Number Ten and that of Her Majesty The Queen is stark.
Downing Street has since issued an apology to Buckingham Palace. But continued apologies are just not enough. Throughout his leadership the Prime Minister has consistently acted as though the rules just don’t apply to him and his political allies, and he clearly allowed the same culture to develop at Number Ten. The Prime Minister has degraded the office in which he sits and I have deep concerns about the long-term damage this is having on the integrity of our Parliament and democracy. You can read my views on this here.
Just as concerning is that these revelations will only further undermine the Government’s public health messaging at a time when our NHS is under huge pressure. It is vital that we have a responsible and trusted leadership to manage this pandemic, but that has clearly been lacking in this country in recent years.
We don’t need to wait for an inquiry to know that the Prime Minister broke the rules that the rest of us were asked to follow, and with that, the public’s trust. It is therefore time for him to stop hiding behind an internal probe and smirking when interviewed on the news, and to finally do the decent thing for the good of the whole country and resign.