Kirklees Conservative MPs back Boris Johnson as 'partygate' row continues

Kirklees Conservative MPs Jason McCartney and Mark Eastwood have said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should not lose his job over the evolving partygate scandal.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 2:00 pm

Writing prior to Mr Johnson’s appearance in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr McCartney stuck to his previous statement that anyone breaking lockdown laws “should face the full consequences of their actions”.

But he drew a direct comparison between Mr Johnson and other people who had been fined for Covid breaches and said none of them had lost their jobs.

In an email to a constituent, Mr McCartney said: “I welcome that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have accepted the results of the investigation by the Met Police and paid their fines, just like anyone else needs to do, in full.

Sign up to our daily Dewsbury Reporter Today newsletter

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney, left, with Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood, right, pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a whistlestop visit to Huddersfield last year

“All those who broke the rules needs [sic] to accept what they did was wrong and face the full consequences of their actions.

"I know of people locally who also faced fines for breaking the rules, but none of whom also had to lose their jobs.”

That comment was echoed by his party colleague Mark Eastwood, the MP for Dewsbury, who wrote that Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak had “recognised that their decisions and actions were wrong and broke the rules and that they needed to accept the punishment given to them by way of a fixed penalty notice.

“People do not typically resign upon receiving a fixed penalty notice, and the law applies equally to every single citizen and must be seen to be so.”

In January Mr McCartney said he was waiting for civil servant Sue Gray to deliver her report on gatherings at 10 Downing Street during lockdown before making a judgement “as I have not seen all the evidence”.

That stance was also taken by Mr Eastwood.

In his latest email, Mr McCartney added: “The Prime Minister has given a fulsome apology and rightly so for the incident in which he was fined on his birthday and between work meetings.

"He explained ‘There was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm, and lasting less than 10 minutes, during which people I worked with passed on their good wishes'.”

He said he appreciated there may yet be further fines “for the Prime Minister and others”.

Mr Eastwood’s email also contained the “brief gathering” quote from Mr Johnson and followed up with a recognition that there was concern regarding further fines “for the Prime Minister and other civil servants”.

It concluded with: “The long-term cultural issues, including leadership structures and the role of civil servants, within 10 Downing Street have now been addressed under the recommendations of Sue Grey’s [sic] report.

"I believe that these changes ensure that such a misjudgement, both in the event and its handling, cannot happen again.”