Over the last few weeks I have heard from many of my constituents, who have expressed their concern regarding the reported events that took place at Downing Street, during periods of national lockdown.
I have read Sue Gray’s report and fully understand the anger felt by many of my constituents at its findings. Some of these matters are still under investigation by the Metropolitan Police and I am pleased that the Prime Minister has now confirmed that the full report will be published once these are completed. However, it is already clear that some of the gatherings were in breach of the rules at the time and should not have been allowed to happen. Those responsible, including the Prime Minister, must take responsibility for this and I agree that the breach of rules is especially serious if it is committed by those who themselves were responsible for setting them. Like most of my constituents, I made every effort to behave responsibly throughout the pandemic lockdowns, and made sacrifices to do so.
I listened to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons and attended a meeting with him later. His assurance that he intends to make major changes in the operation of 10 Downing Street is very welcome. I have previously worked in Downing Street for Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister. She had a small staff who were mainly civil servants. Since then the number has vastly expanded with a corresponding loss of efficacy. The muddying of clear responsibilities and confusion of roles has to be addressed and I have told this to the Prime Minister directly. However, he also has to take responsibility personally and I welcome his recognition of this and the apology that he gave to Parliament and the country.
I have received many emails asking me to send to the 1922 Committee chairman a letter of “no confidence” in the Prime Minister, although I should point out that I have also received a large number of emails asking me to continue to support him. Having carefully considered the matter, I do not believe that it would be in the country’s interests to change the Prime Minister at this time. We are facing the gravest threat of a bloody war in mainland Europe and it is essential that Western nations remain united in the face of this. In addition, many families are facing extremely hard times due to the massive increase in energy prices as well as the financial effects of Covid. The Government must give these issues full attention rather than forcing the country into a period of uncertainty whilst a lengthy leadership contest is held.
I do not have “no confidence” in the Prime Minister. He has done many things that he set out to do very successfully and his Government deserves credit for delivering Brexit, for rolling out the most successful vaccine programme in the world and for supporting the UK economy to become the fastest growing in the G7. These are major achievements which have benefitted the whole country. However, it is also clear that changes must be made to the way in which both he and the Government operate. I expect him to make these and will judge him in the coming month accordingly.