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'Difficult to have confidence in Government' after Partygate revelations, says Tory MP

24 May 2022, 18:46 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 20:04

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A Conservative MP has said it is "very difficult to have any confidence in the Government" as new details emerge over Partygate.

It comes after photographs were obtained by ITV news yesterday of Boris Johnson raising a glass at a Downing Street party during lockdown.

Today, a BBC report revealed a culture in No10 during lockdown of crowded rooms, people sitting on each other's laps, party debris everywhere and staff who protested being mocked.

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In response, Tom Tugendhat told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr: "Tonight, it's very difficult to have any confidence in the Government but you know, I'll leave it there.

"I mean, frankly, it's very difficult to have confidence in the Government right now."

Asked if Mr Johnson was the right man to be in No 10, Mr Tugendhat said there was a "very serious issue" over "seriousness in government".

He continued: "There is a real problem. If you are not serious, if you do not look like you're serious, if you do not behave as though, frankly, the occupation of governing the United Kingdom is possibly the most serious you'll ever have, it does raise questions of competence."

Tory former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick called the latest reports "deeply concerning" but urged people to hold their judgement until after Sue Gray's report is published.

The MP told Andrew: "There'll be many people who feel desperately disappointed by what happened at the centre of government.

"I do think that now that we've waited several months for Sue Gray's inquiry it is worth us waiting for what it is she has to say.

"She will set out her views I'm sure in a robust way, in a very considered manner... I would wait until we hear what she has to say."

Grilled further on the issue, he added: "Of course the Prime Minister has responsibility for No 10 to a degree, that's why he's taken responsibility and has apologised already and he's going to make a statement to Parliament perhaps tomorrow if that is when the report's published.

"I'm sure that he will apologise again on behalf of the organisation that he leads."

Mr Tugendhat is one of a number of Conservative MPs who have criticised Mr Johnson as he faces fresh accusations he lied to Parliament.

Veteran Conservative backbench MP Sir Roger Gale called for him to resign, saying "honourably, there is only one answer" after the PM "misled us from the despatch box".

The images obtained by ITV News were taken at a do for departing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13 2020, just days after the Prime Minister ordered a second national lockdown in England.

Asked last December in the Commons whether there had been a party in No 10 on that date, Mr Johnson said "no" and added he was sure the rules were followed at all times.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross called for him to explain his behaviour, and his predecessor Baroness Davidson said his position had become untenable.

Conservative MP Steve Baker posted an image on Twitter of one of the Government's Covid adverts. It shows a patient in an oxygen mask and reads: "Look into her eyes and tell her you never bend the rules."

Photos show Boris Johnson raising a glass with at least eight other people, including the photographer
Photos show Boris Johnson raising a glass with at least eight other people, including the photographer. Picture: ITV News

Ms Gray's report could be published on Wednesday, with the PM expected to issue an apology across a series of appearances, including PMQs, a Commons statement and a press conference.

Meanwhile, the acting head of the Metropolitan Police has been asked by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to explain the force's decisions over Partygate.

Mr Khan wrote to Sir Stephen House on Tuesday to seek answers about the Met's decisions in individual cases in the Downing Street investigation.

He warned that trust in Scotland Yard was being eroded by a "lack of clarity" around the way decisions were taken during the inquiry into parties.

Mr Johnson received a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) over a birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020, but was told he would face no further action over other gatherings, which include the gathering to mark Mr Cain's departure from No 10.

The Met has issued 126 FPNs to 83 people involved in a series of events in Downing Street and Whitehall, including on November 13 2020.