Thank you for contacting me with your very important concerns regarding the allegations of parties held at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during lockdown.
One of my key roles as your representative in Parliament is to listen to my constituents and campaign on your behalf – in fact, this is the whole philosophy behind my “Listening to Wellingborough and Rushden” campaign. Thank you for contacting me on this matter.
Many people shared with me their own deeply personal experiences from the last two years, and I am thankful to everyone who took the time to express their views. Whether you wrote to me to express your support for the Prime Minister or to criticise, I thought you would like to have my understanding of the current situation.
This letter is being written following the initial report from Sue Gray. Unfortunately, it is not the full report, and we will have to wait until that is published before passing the final judgement.
As you may be aware, in addition to reading correspondence sent to me, I and the “Listening” team have been out and about in North Northamptonshire. Speaking to people on the doorstep, gauging their views and listening to the issues that concern them the most. This is all part of my “Listening” campaign which I have been proud to lead since becoming your Member of Parliament. In fact, this week I was on the doorstep for three hours on Saturday morning and for three hours at Sunday lunchtime and three hours on Monday evening.
Whilst I certainly recognise how deeply the anger and hurt caused by these revelations are felt, it has been my experience that when I speak to local people, their main concerns are not surrounding the alleged parties. On the doorstep, the issues I hear about most are small boat crossings, the cost of living and the availability of good quality healthcare. In addition, people have expressed support for my Private Members’ Bill which will abolish the BBC Licence Fee.
For those who feel very strongly about the conduct in Whitehall during the lockdown, I know this will be difficult to comprehend, but I can only relay my experience on the doorstep. Given the views, I hear most commonly, I believe that, at this moment in time, the vast majority of my constituents want the Prime Minister to be given the opportunity to prove he can deliver on the Conservative priorities he campaigned for in 2019.
Sue Gray’s update on her report concluded that there were “failures in leadership and judgement” and it is difficult to disagree with this conclusion. However, the update to the report also acknowledges that “In terms of size, scale and range of responsibility [No.10 Downing Street] is now more akin to a small Government Department than purely a dedicated Prime Minister’s office”. In fact, behind the door of No.10 Downing Street, there is a three-storey office block of significant size. These incidents have highlighted how the leadership structure of the Downing Street offices has failed to sufficiently evolve to its modern function. There has been a “blurring of lines of accountability” and I am glad that the Prime Minister has taken immediate action in establishing the Office of the Prime Minister to rectify this.
I know first-hand how seriously the Prime Minister takes this matter and how deeply sorry he is for the hurt caused. I am also concerned at how these events were allowed to happen and I look forward to the publication of Sue Gray’s full report so that a complete judgement can be made.
I am also mindful that Boris Johnson has achieved a lot in his short term as Prime Minister. He got Brexit done when people said it was impossible. He ensured this country developed the first viable vaccine in the world, of which 2.7 billion doses have been administered in this country and across the world saving millions of lives. He had the foresight to purchase 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has allowed us to have the most successful COVID booster programme in Europe. His resolute leadership has allowed us to be the freest country in the western world and we have the fastest growing economy in the G7.
For now, the Prime Minister continues to enjoy my full support.