Council rejects calls to lobby MPs over partygate scandal

boris johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson - Credit: Daniel Leal/PA

Calls have been made by opposition councillors for East Suffolk Council to lobby MPs urging them to lodge no confidence votes in the Prime Minister over the Partygate scandal.

A motion tabled by the Labour group at Wednesday’s full council meeting proposed to back Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who has already submitted a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, and urge the district’s two other MPs – Therese Coffey and Dr Dan Poulter – to do the same.

The motion, which did not secure enough votes to pass, was in relation to the ongoing row over alleged parties or gatherings at Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic when strict social restrictions were in place.

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour group at East Suffolk Council

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour group on East Suffolk Council - Credit: MAXINE CLARKE

Labour group leader Peter Byatt, who tabled the motion, said he did not expect the council’s Conservative majority to criticise their own party, but rather “think carefully in what you want to see in your own leader”.

Cllr Byatt said: “Our residents were asked to follow lockdown rules, and they did so in the belief that others were doing so.

“In my case, I lived in isolation in a caravan for three months so that my family wouldn’t worry about infecting me with Covid.

“Millions of people were unable to see relatives for months on end, others unable to visit the sick or dying, barred from attending funerals of loved ones.

Most Read

“When the information about Westminster lockdown parties first leaked out, I was disappointed firstly that there had been breaches of lockdown rules, but was even more troubled by the fact that there had been parties on multiple occasions – and this was exacerbated by the Prime Minister stating that no rules had been broken.

“This was insulting enough to all decent-minded people, and I still have hope that those who breached the rules will be penalised, no matter who they are.”

Cllr Byatt however praised the efforts of Conservative council leader Steve Gallant for his work in keeping the council and opposition leaders informed of actions during the height of the pandemic, as well as the work of council officers in responding to the crisis.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant

Steve Gallant, East Suffolk Council leader - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Cllr Gallant said: “It’s not the role of this council to get involved in political wrangling in Parliament.

“It’s right and proper our three MPs look at the situation, consider the circumstances and act in a way they consider to be appropriate, proportionate and in the best interests of those they represent.

“They do not need me or indeed this council to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do.

“They represent many constituents both inside and outside of East Suffolk – they are better placed than I to understand the impact.

“I am confident if they wanted the views of me or of this council they would have asked.”

peter aldous

Peter Aldous has called on Boris Johnson to resign. - Credit: Jamie Honeywood

The Metropolitan Police are currently probing the claims, with Mr Johnson having responded to a questionnaire last week as part of the investigation into 12 gatherings during 2020 and 2021.

A separate investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray has also taken place, with an update published at the end of January, however the Met asked that minimal reference is made to matters it is continuing to investigate.