By Rachael Grealish
Cumbrian MPs have voiced mixed reactions to the Prime Minister apologising for attending a party at Downing Street during the height of the pandemic.
A picture was released, allegedly from May 15 2020, showing Boris Johnson and his wife sitting with No 10 staff including Martin Reynolds on the terrace with a bottle of wine and cheese.
Following this an email, shared exclusively with ITV News, provided the first evidence of a party on May 20, 2020, asking attendees to ‘bring your own booze’.
At PMQs today, Wednesday January 12, the PM admitted to attending the ‘BYOB’ party and apologised for it.
The apology was met with various lines of support and, of course, demands the PM now resigns for breaking lockdown rules.
Following this the Cumbrian MPs have given mixed reactions – with one in support and one with a call for Johnson to resign.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said there is ‘no question about it’ the PM must resign.
He said: “It’s absolutely appalling that while people were spending miserable months alone, forced to spend Christmas alone, not able to see dying loved ones, the people running the country were ignoring the rules they’d made for everyone else and were living it up, having parties in Downing Street. One rule for us – no rules for them.
“This is a resignation matter, there’s no question about it. The Prime Minister has clearly lied to the country, never mind the House of Commons and has broken rules that he set at a time of national crisis.”
Dr Neil Hudson, Conservative MP for Penrith and The Border, hasn’t called for his boss to resign but has said of rules have been broken then ‘serious consequences’ are needed.
“I was in the House of Commons Chamber today and I welcome that the PM came and admitted that he was at the 20th May 2020 gathering and that he apologised for that.
“That was an important step forward. As I said yesterday, let’s see the result of the investigation by the Civil Service and potentially the Metropolitan Police and see what the findings tell us.
“But I will not defend the indefensible and I fully share the country’s outrage and upset when people up and down the land were making huge personal and sometimes tragic sacrifices to do the right thing and obey the public health rules.
“We need quickly to get clarity and full transparency as to what happened. Again, if rules have been broken then quite rightly there should be serious consequences.”
On the other hand, his colleague Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington, has backed Johnson wholeheartedly – claiming the majority of his constituents also feel the same.
He said: “My constituents, like many others across the country, have made huge sacrifices over the last two years. We cannot but listen to harrowing stories, of which there are many, and empathise with those feelings of pain and anger.
“As we have heard today, the Prime Minister has taken full responsibility and apologised for not getting everything right during the pandemic. It is clear from his apology that if he was to turn back time, he would have found some other way to thank staff at No 10.
“Speaking to my constituents, as I do on a daily basis, it is clear that the majority feel that time is not well spent looking backwards.
“Britain is one of the first countries to emerge from the pandemic. This achievement cannot be overlooked and is in no small part due to the Prime Minister’s drive on vaccinations, on boosters and on his personal determination to follow the data instead of the scenarios proffered by doom- mongers.
“Scotland and Wales continue to be in various stages of lockdown as their leaders have refused to take the brave decisions that our Prime Minister did, which continue to be vindicated.”
Jenkinson went on to claim the PM also has the support of the Parliamentary Party.
“He continues to have my support, that of the Parliamentary Party, and of the majority of my constituents who tell me that, as we are now out of the European Union as they asked, they see this as an exciting period for Britain and that they (and I) hope we take the opportunities ahead of us as we are led out of the pandemic by a Prime Minister that truly believes in the ability and opportunity of our country,” he continued.
Copeland’s MP, Trudy Harrison was posed the same question, from The Herdwick News, asking how she felt following the apology which we have not received a reply to, however, she did previously confirm she did not attend any party at Downing Street, or have any knowledge of them.
She said: “I can confirm that I did not attend any parties – nor am I aware of any parties occurring – at Downing Street. It would be inappropriate to comment further until the outcome of the independent investigation is presented.”
Carlisle MP, John Stevenson, and Barrow’s MP, Simon Fell, have been contacted for a response, but are yet to do so.
It is unclear what the future holds for the Prime Minister, but leader of the opposition, Sir Kier Starmer, has demanded Johnson resign.