Still no local Tory MPs ready to defend Johnson's garden party
- Credit: PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's admission that he had been at a drinks party in the garden of Number 10 during lockdown in 2020 was "too little, too late" according to one East Anglian Tory MP.
There were still no MPs in the region willing to give the Prime Minister their backing after the revelations about the drinks party in May 2020 on the day that people were finally told they could meet one other person not in their household.
Government ministers James Cartildge (South Suffolk), Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal), Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds), and Will Quince (Colchester) did not respond to our requests for a comment on Mr Johnson's statement when he said he had spent 25 minutes at the outdoor event - and now realises he should have sent people away.
However Clacton MP Giles Watling was not impressed by the statement: "I think it's too little too late, and I know a lot of people feel the same.
"It won't end the controversy - it will continue to be a huge issue for the government which is having to deal with some really important problems.
"It's doing a good job on Covid. There's all the concern about Russia and the Ukraine - but the government is all wrapped up in this.
"I didn't vote for Mr Johnson in the leadership election and in many things he's done better than I expected - but this is a huge distraction."
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Mr Watling has not sent in a letter to the 1922 Committee asking for a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister's leadership at this stage - but he said he would be watching the situation.
Other MPs thought Mr Johnson may have bought himself some time - but he could still be in trouble when the results of the inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray are published.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: “I am pleased the Prime Minister has apologised but it is not much consolation to those of us who cared for patients on the frontline of the NHS and saw them die of Covid.
"I hope the inquiry is conducted very quickly and should the Prime Minister be found to have actively misled Parliament or if he faces criminal sanction (or both) then his position would be untenable.”
Waveney MP Peter Aldous was also pleased to hear the apology - but again feels the Prime Minister's problems are far from over: "I think he needed to say that and I'm pleased he did.
"But we still need to see the full inquiry when it is published and there could well be some very difficult issues in there for him so I don't think he is out of the woods yet. People are still very upset by these revelations."
A spokesman for West Suffolk MP and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock who is currently suffering from Covid said he would not be commenting on the Prime Minister's statement.
And North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: "I think a great deal depends upon the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the impartial civil servant (Sue Gray), who has worked both for Labour and Conservative governments in the past."
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was busy in House of Commons debates and was unable to comment on the Prime Minister's apology.