This week has been rife with mixed emotions in reaction to revelations that the Prime Minister attended an illegal party in the Downing Street gardens in May 2020. People across the country are feeling outrage, anger, despair, regret and a plethora of other emotions in response to this disrespectful flouting of the rules in a time when futures were so uncertain. The Government’s subsequent scrambling and squirming to say anything to excuse this is frankly unacceptable behaviour.
Nothing I can say will ease the pain of those May 2020 experiences. I want my constituents, and the public of this country, to know that I am right there with them. It is just so wrong for the Prime Minister to fail the people in such a cruel and heartless way. The Tories should not get away with this. We will not drop this.
On a day when hundreds of people died from covid, and it was illegal to meet any more than one person and in an outside setting only, a bring-your-own-booze party was held at Number 10. The Leader of the House-Rt. Hon. Jacob Rees Mogg MP- has previously dismissed the completely justified uproar around this as “brouhaha”. I questioned him on this at Business Questions.
This casual attitude towards the Prime Minister breaking his own rules is offensive. It is proof of how far removed this Government really is from the people; the 25 minutes the Leader claimed the Prime Minister spent at this party would have meant so much to those who were unable to say goodbye to dying loved ones, unable to comfort family and friends whilst doing all they could to muddle through such painful times. We all remember the agony of the era of the virtual quiz in a desperate attempt to connect to those we missed so dearly, yet were fiercely determined to protect in the hope of a brighter future.
Unfortunately, the Leader of the House’s response was wholly inadequate, leaning on the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘apology’ at Wednesday’s PMQs, and the internal investigation being carried out by a Senior Civil Servant to bypass my questions.
The defence of the Prime Minister’s behaviour is astounding. The rules throughout this pandemic have been gruelling, everyone knows this. But we also know that the point of them was to protect us. If people across the country have followed rules causing them such heartache because they knew it was the right thing to do, how can the Tories defend a Prime Minister who has not done the same? Not even for a dying loved one, not even for a critically lonely elderly relative, but for a party. It is incomprehensible.
The first principle of the Ministerial Code states that “Ministers of the Crown are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety” (see here). As far as I can tell, this principle looks like a cruel irony, highlighting how this Tory Government seems set on doing exactly the opposite, and seemingly embodying the antithesis of how to behave when in power.
This is a Government entirely focused on serving their own self-interests, and treating the people of this country like an inconvenient afterthought. This is not what my constituents and all the hardworking people up and down this country deserve. It is not right, it is not working, and this story will not be simply batted away.
Labour will continue to stand up for this country. We will not allow this indefensible behaviour to continue. The British public deserve far more than this Tory Government is giving them.