HomeCoronavirus‘It is indefensible’: what Tory MPs said to constituents about partygate

‘It is indefensible’: what Tory MPs said to constituents about partygate

Conservative MPs have revealed their anger at the Downing Street party scandal in response to emails from concerned constituents, as support for the prime minister across the party continues to drain away.

In a number of emails to constituents seen by the Guardian, Tory MPs said they were “appalled”, “embarrassed” and “disgusted” by the revelations, with many saying they were not prepared to “defend the indefensible”.

Although many MPs said they were withholding judgment until the outcome of the Sue Gray inquiry, others said they doubted any findings would be enough to restore public confidence in the leadership.

Many said they had been inundated with hundreds of emails from constituents on the subject, detailing their own personal sacrifices during Covid and showing “the strength of anger and distress” over the issue.

Below are some excerpts from their responses:

Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire

“The multiple revelations suggest a culture of casual disregard for some of the most intrusive and restrictive rules imposed on the British public since the second world war. Everyone has a right to be angry about this. I hope the Metropolitan police will investigate these gatherings … it makes me feel extremely disappointed and genuinely let down.”

James Sunderland, MP for Bracknell

“I am furious at the apparent lack of grip shown by government officials. Something has also clearly gone wrong with the political machine at No 10.”

Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley

“The PM’s decision to attend [the 20 May 2020 gathering] was amazingly stupid. I expect those staff who organised or attended [the party the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral] to be removed without delay. Both their judgment and level of maturity is clearly such that they have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the governance of this country. As we await the full report on events, and in all likelihood for the foreseeable future, I and many of my parliamentary colleagues will regard the prime minister as being ‘on licence’. He has behaved foolishly and is undeniably a diminished figure now.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney

“Personally, I found [the prime minister’s] defence that he was ignorant as to the nature of the gathering difficult to comprehend. I cannot, at present, see how [the Sue Gray] report could exonerate the prime minister and alleviate public anger. If he is found to have actively misled parliament, or if he faces criminal sanction [or both], his position is untenable and he should resign. I would hope that he would do this without the need for a formal vote of no confidence by Conservative MPs.”

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk

“It is indefensible and I have made my thoughts very clear internally. For those at the heart of government to show such a total lack of empathy and awareness to the rules is wholly irresponsible. I hope you will respect my decision to not publicly be telling anybody whether I have or have not written to Sir Graham Brady at this stage – even my wife will not know that information! But as you have seen from my previous actions, I am not a person who is appalled and takes no action.”

Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes

“It was irresponsible, reckless and unacceptable and disciplinary actions, and possibly prosecutions, should follow.”

Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire

“Like you, I am angry and upset to learn about this latest revelation. I want every one of these allegations to be fully and independently investigated, if necessary, by the police and I want all of those, however senior, who have broken the law or government guidance to be appropriately punished.”

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich

“I must say that I’ve been appalled. The fact that a big bash was organised the night before Prince Philip’s funeral fills me with disgust. This is not an isolated example of modest rule-breaking. It’s clear to me that whatever happens there needs to be almost a total clearout of No 10 and all of those who were in any way connected with what appear to be clear rule-breaking events need to properly be held to account.”

Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys

“It is hard to believe the current stream of revelations, and I have no intention of mounting any defence. Not only am I disappointed at the behaviour of the Downing Street operation (including civil servants who should know better) but, as I have had to say too often before, events of recent months have dented my confidence in the prime minister to say the least, and I feel he has seriously let the country as a whole down.”

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