What do our North Northamptonshire politicians think of the Downing Street lockdown parties?

They've been giving their opinions since further revelations broke this week about more boozy evenings in Number 10

By Kate Cronin
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 4:46 pm
MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone have been out on the campaign trail this weekend and they say that there was a good level of support for their boss. Image: Tom Pursglove / Twitter
MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone have been out on the campaign trail this weekend and they say that there was a good level of support for their boss. Image: Tom Pursglove / Twitter

As public outrage swept the country this week following report after report of multiple parties and gatherings inside Downing Street during lockdown, there were calls from across the political spectrum for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign.

Last week if was revealed in an email obtained by ITV News, sent by Prime Minister Boris Johnson' s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, that more than 100 people working in Downing Street that they should bring their own booze to a socially-distanced event.

Since then there have been yet more allegations, leading to Mr Johnson apologising at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. But that has done little to quell the avalanche of fury from members of the public.

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This poster has been pinned to a disused furniture shop in Kettering

It then emerged that two parties were held on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip.

Politicians in North Northamptonshire have been giving their own views on what they think should happen.

Corby Conservative councillor David Sims told his newspaper that he had been his mum had died in February 2020 only three months after he lost his father - former Corby Labour councillor Joe Sims.

Cllr Sims added: "Because of the first lockdown restrictions only six people attended the funeral service. I was disgusted to learn of yet another party in a recently leaked email that reveal Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie attended a drinks event in the Downing Street Garden during this first Covid lockdown. It makes me extremely emotional and angry.

"He has just announced the restrictions we all have to abide by but then a few minutes later he was in a party in the garden that his senior aid Martin Reynolds had sent out 100 invites to employees at number 10.

"I never thought I would feel this or say this about a Conservative prime minster however to me this is not about party politics. In my view his position is indefensible. In the interest of the nation he should resign immediately."

After our reporters posted Cllr Sims' comments on social media he was met with a wave of support from local people across all political parties.

Left-wing Tweeter and steelworker Pete Iwanoff said: "David is my cousin. I couldn’t attend my auntie’s funeral. My mum's last remaining sibling. Those Downing St parties kicked every one of us in the teeth."

And Labour Town Councillor Martyn Reuby said: "Well said and I applaud you for speaking out. As you have put it here. It is not always about cross-party points scoring."

Cllr Sims spoke out again today (Sunday, January 16), saying: "Boris is a complete liability He has lost the moral right to lead this country. Even if he manages to riddle out of partygate on a technicality the fact remains he should have been setting an example and actually lead by example.

"The photo of the queen sitting on her own on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral says it all. Boris should go now irrespective of Sue Gray’s enquiry. If he doesn’t know what is going on at number 10 how can he run the country? The breach of public trust and disregard of the rule of law means his position is untenable."

Speaking to the Northamptonshire Telegraph earlier this week, Kettering MP Philip Hollobone called the reports 'very disturbing,' and said that there could no be one rule for the government and a separate rule for everyone else.

Over the weekend, Corby and Wellingborough MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone held the Government line and went out on the campaign trail ahead of February's Oundle by-election which was called after Tory council member Annabel de Cappell Brook finally resigned weeks after she moved to Norfolk.

After a period of silence on Twitter since the news broke, minister Mr Pursglove posted a picture of the outing on social media, tweeting his support for his boss. He said: "So many interesting and useful conversations on the doorstep today during two lengthy door knocking stints - lots of support for @BorisJohnson to keep getting on with delivering on local people's priorities here in #CorbyEN. And that's exactly what we'll do!"

Earlier today Mr Pursglove told the BBC that he did not think Boris Johnson should resign.

His tweet was met with an onslaught of wildly diverse reaction. It received more than 500 'likes' with some people urging for it to be 'spread far and wide', while one retweeter called for it to be a contender for the popular 'Didn't Happen of the Year Awards'.

One supporter called Stephen Kiss said: "Just shows the British public don’t believe all the propaganda the press are shoving down our throats, There (sic) still backing Boris"

Former Wellingborough Conservative member Jack Summers, who is now the Wellingborough Labour Youth Officer after he left the Tory Party amid bullying accusations, replied: "This is nonsense @VotePursglove

"We both know that the Corby & Wellingborough Conservative strategy is to immediately locate the voting intention and leave. You don't ask questions apart from can we have the vote. There are very few houses that will give you lengthy answers. To argue your results mean there's support for Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is false. It is just a part of the script."

Wellingborough MP Peter Bone has been doing the media rounds during the past few days to express his unwavering support for Boris Johnson's position. He told Channel 4 News last night (Saturday) that he had been out in the constituency with 42 activists for two, two-hour stints yesterday and that 'the majority of the activists were supportive of the Prime Minister and the Government.'

He said that they were knocking in a 'Conservative area' - thought to be in the Oundle ward - adding: "There was huge support for the Conservatives and for the Prime Minister and I didn't have a single person say they don't like the Prime Minister and they weren't going to vote Conservative among those who have voted Conservative in the past.

"There were people who didn't like the PM but they were people who had always disliked him and had never voted Conservative."

Mr Bone said that people had also agreed with an emerging narrative from Downing Street that the civil servants working there are too inexperienced.

He said: "Boris needs to have people in Downing Street who are older. Get rid of the 25-year-olds who seem to be out-of-control."

He also took a swipe at Mr Johnson's former advisor Dominic Cummings - believed in some circles to be behind many of the leaks to the media - and said that he had been 'completely discredited'.

He said that, on the doorstep, people had wanted to talk to him about taxation rather than the ongoing crisis inside Downing Street.

Conservative North Northants Council leader Cllr Jason Smithers has been quiet on the issue so far, but did go out campaignig with the MPs this weekend. When asked by a Corby mum on social media what he would do if it was discovered that NNC staff were holding parties in the Council Chamber in lockdown, he replied: "I would ask for a report into the incident and then make an informed decision about the next steps once I knew the all facts. Hope this helps!"

Earlier this week, veteran Labour Councillor John McGhee said: "The silence from our Corby Mp Tom Pursglove on the disgraceful party at 10 Downing is deafening.

"When we were obeying rules, 10 Downing street was ignoring them. DISGRACEFUL. Come on Mr Pursglove, support your disappointed residents and ask for resignations."

And outspoken Wellingborough Tory councillor Scott Brown said he was remaining loyal to Mr Johnson, tweeting last week: "Obviously there are questions to be answered regarding alleged Downing Street parties in May ‘20, but considering Boris was in intensive care until mid-April, I can’t believe he was there partying with them. I’ll await the results of the investigation before passing judgement."