Harrogate MP renews his criticism of Boris Johnson as region's politicians call for PM to resign

As the pressure on Boris Johnson to resign continues to build this week, Harrogate’s MP has hit out at a “rotten element” within our political system.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 3rd June 2022, 4:58 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd June 2022, 5:01 pm

In a special report by the Harrogate Advertiser, we asked our main political parties their views on 'Partygate' and whether the Prime Minister should resign from his post.

Boris Johnson’s hopes that the publication of the Sue Gray report last week would draw a line in the sand over questions about his future have foundered as criticism regarding his behaviour in the 'Partygate' saga refuses to dissipate.

Reports from Westminster said that, as of Tuesday night, a total of 44 Tory MPs had publically questioned the Prime Minister’s leadership, including Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, with 28 calling on him to resign.

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There have been renewed calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign this week in light of the 'Partygate' affair.

Though still reluctant to reveal whether he is among those disaffected MPs who have sent a letter of no confidence in the PM, Mr Jones said the findings of top civil servant Sue Gray’s report made “intensely depressing” reading.

Speaking before news broke that Lord Geidt, Boris Johnson’s own ethics adviser threatened to quit over his boss’s attitude to the Downing Street parties scandal, Mr Jones said his anger over the issue had not lessened.

“I understand the anger people feel. I feel it too,” Mr Jones said. “I feel intensely depressed that senior people in our political system have pretended, or somehow genuinely believed, that tables groaning with bottles of wine, as we have now seen pictured, were in some way allowed work practices.

“My anger isn’t going to lessen but I have commented in public at each stage of this saga and I have made clear my opinions at each stage. Many people want to know if I have submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister to the Chair of the 1922 Committee.

“While I can understand the curiosity this is a matter that will remain between myself and the Chair of the 1922 committee.”

Conservative Party rules state that at least 15% of Tory MPs must write a no-confidence letter to make a leadership challenge possible, which equates to 54 MPs.

As the letters are handed over privately, the only person who knows the true total is Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs.

Among the new names to join the tide of criticism facing the PM since the Sue Gray report was published is former cabinet minister Dame Angela Leadsom who sent a letter to her constituents blaming Mr Johnson for “unacceptable failings of leadership”.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS:

Harrogate & Knaresborough Lib Dems:

Coun Pat Marsh said: “The Sue Gray report was long overdue but was not desperately surprising with all the leaks that have occurred.

“What was surprising was the total lack of respect for staff clearing up their carnage... Who do they really think they are?

“Sue Gray’s report really highlights that there are rules for us, that they make, but with arrogance they feel that they don’t need to follow. I think my main reactions are ones of anger and huge disappointment with those who are meant to set the rules.

“What message does this send out to not just the UK but the wider world? All respect for these people has totally gone. Any decent person would have stood down to show respect for those he is meant to govern.

“Boris Johnson has proven he is not above the law and having broken his own rules and been fined he should do the honourable thing and resign otherwise this country’s place in the world falls dramatically.

“By clinging onto power he is undermining our country’s reputation and no-one who loved this country would allow that to continue.

“He has to go and fast, if he wants to cling onto power then it is up to his Conservative MPs to tell him to go.”

At the national level, Sir Ed Davey asked last week - after the publication of the Sue Gray report - how Boris Johnson could “look the British people in the eye and name one person, just one person, he cares about more than himself”.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats claimed the Prime Minister was only sorry he got caught, and not sorry for the wrong-doing in the first place.

Sir Ed Davey also demanded to know how Boris Johnson could escape a fine for being at another party where at least one fellow attendee was fined by the Met Police for breaking the PM’s own lockdown rules.

LABOUR:

The Harrogate & Knaresborough Labour Party:

A spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has shown little regard for the ordinary people of this country who lived for many months within the Covid rules he imposed.

“Boris Johnson has overseen a culture at Downing Street which has damaged peoples trust and has made a mockery of the democratic officers and institutions of government and shown complete disregard for the law.

“We call upon him to resign and we ask Andrew Jones, MP, to make effective his criticism of the Prime Minister by submitting a letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee.

“Like many in our community local Labour Party members worked in key roles during the pandemic, many prioritised work over seeing vulnerable family members, we home schooled, we came together to help support each other - volunteering to help with shopping, with medication and to befriend the lonely.

“Unable to visit dying relatives, and to see parents and family members in care homes we helped to build a united compassionate response during the crisis.

“The arrogance of a Prime Minister and his staff partying and drinking to excess regularly is shocking and his apologies are too little and far too late. He has to go.”

At the national level, the Labour Party potentially faces its own lockdown rules problems. Durham Police are currently investigating ‘Beergate’ claims in a Labour MP’s office in April 2021 after a day’s campaigning in Durham.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who was pictured apparently with beer and curry in the constituency office, has maintained that no rules were broken but has pledged to resign if he is given a fixed-penalty notice by the Police.

Sir Keir said: “I believe in honour, integrity and the principle that those who make the laws must follow them. It’s very important that the public don’t think that all politicians are the same.”

GREEN PARTY:

Harrogate and district Green Party:

Spokesperson Shan Oakes said: “The Harrogate and District Green Party is horrified by the contempt for agreed standards in public life demonstrated by the party which is ‘governing’ this country.

“By any decent standards, Boris Johnson should resign but it seems he will not until pushed by his party - and his party has no vision or principle to guide its actions

“The fish rots from the head, they say and it is clear that the Prime Minister’s entitled, arrogant, dishonest, delusional, self-centred and thoughtless attitude has infected the staff at No 10.

“It is also clear that civil service staff have been side-lined, oppressed or derided when they have tried to hold a civilised course.

“What are the Conservatives for?

“Their only aim appears to be to stay in power, as demonstrated by their systematic attack on democracy: resistance against a fairer voting system, manipulation of media and Parliament, and the torrent of oppressive legislation rushed through whilst the public is distracted by Boris Johnson’s antics.

“We hope that Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has at least written a letter calling for a vote of no confidence in the Prime minister.”

At the national level, Green Party co-leaer Adrian Ramsay has called on Boris Johnson to resign after his Partygate fine.

What do you think?

Should Boris Johnson resign? Write to us with your thoughts to: [email protected]