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Guildford’s Tory MP Quits Government Role Over ‘Partygate’ But Does Not Call for PM’s Resignation

Published on: 31 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 1 Feb, 2022

The Prime Minister today and Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson

By Martin Giles

With the initial, incomplete, 12-page report on “Partygate” in Whitehall made known today, Guildford’s MP has revealed that she has resigned her position as a permanent parliamentary secretary over the affair.

Thanking constituents who had contacted her on the subject, she said: “I want to thank each of you for writing to me, often with your own moving stories about your experiences during lockdown.

Angela Richardson’s statement

“Stories of family loss, of struggles with mental and physical health as well as other long-term impacts that sticking to the tough Covid rules have had on your lives in the past two years.

“Any request for a sense of perspective from those around Number Ten rang hollow with the ITU nurse that I spoke to while out knocking doors at the weekend.

“Frontline NHS workers like her had also been working hard through the pandemic – putting their health and lives on the line to save others.

“Sue Gray’s report published today clearly states that there were failings at Number Ten Downing Street that let us all down. The Prime Minister again apologised for those.

“I share the deep disappointment that it has taken so long to get to this stage when there could have been an early acknowledgement and apology.”

But she stopped short of calling publicly for Boris Johnson’s resignation, continuing: “It also seems as though there are further questions to which we do not yet have the answer because of the Metropolitan Police investigation.

“I echo my colleagues who called on Number Ten, when appropriate, to release in full the details of events considered by Sue Gray but not currently included in her report. Only that way – with full disclosure – can the process of rebuilding trust begin.

“Last week, I stepped back from my governmental responsibilities to invest more of my time realising the campaigns that I am working on for the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.

“In so doing, I will have more freedom to fulfil my promise to you as I hold the government to account, as a critical friend, on the issues that matter most to the people of Guildford.”

Guildford’s prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate wasted no time in challenging Guildford’s Conservative MP to support moves for the PM’s removal, issuing a statement before Ms Richardson issued hers.

Zoe Franklin said: “This is a damning moment for Boris Johnson and Angela Richardson, our Conservative MP.

Zoe Franklin

“We all know that whilst people across Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages made terrible sacrifices during lockdowns, Boris Johnson and his team were partying in Downing Street.

“We all have painful memories of that lockdown, from not being able to see dying relatives, to being separated for months on end from our friends and family.”

She said it was time for Angela Richardson to support the sacking of Boris Johnson – “no more ifs or buts.”

Sue Gray’s report. To read the full report click here

In long-awaited findings, the senior civil servant Sue Gray in her report said some events “should not have been allowed to take place”. Ms Gray investigated 16 separate gatherings – including three that were not previously known about.

Boris Johnson said he accepted the findings in full, as he faced questions and criticism from MPs. “I am sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled,” he said, as he promised a shake-up of the way Downing Street is run.

The BBC reported that some Conservative backbenchers gave vocal support to the PM and backed his call to move on when he made his statement and faced questions in the House of Commons this afternoon (January 31). But there are signs several others have not been so keen on the tone he’s taken and some made it clear.

Ms Richardson, who was the PPS of Secretary of State Michael Gove, has previously been loyal to the government since elected, with the exception of her abstaining in the vote on an amendment that would have changed the way MP standards are policed in the wake of a proposal to discipline Tory MP Owen Paterson. As a result, in a move many found farcical, she was sacked for just 16 hours (see: Guildford’s MP Sacked as PPS and Restored Within Hours, As Government Reconsiders Standards Proposal).

Observers will be waiting to see if she will support any party leadership challengers that might emerge as events unfold.

Brian Creese

Brian Creese, Chair of Guildford Labour Party, commented: “This has been a terrible few weeks for this country. We have had to watch a Prime Minister bring the entire nation into disrepute as he has flailed around trying to find words to justify the indefensible.

“Everyone knows he attended parties, knew about parties and almost certainly hosted parties, but he is still clutching at straws rather than admit the truth. And let us not forget this crisis followed the ‘Wallpapergate’ lies and the attempts to save Owen Paterson from the rules.

“We all know the pattern – rules are not for the likes of Boris Johnson, only for us. Of course, he should go and go now, and Ms Richardson would do well to join with her constituents in hastening Johnson’s exit.”

Mark Bray-Parry of the Green Party

Mark Bray-Parry, speaking for the local Green Party, said: “The decision as to whether Downing Street officials, or indeed the Prime Minister himself, acted criminally over the parties held at Number 10 during lockdown now rightfully sits with the Met Police.

“However, the office of the Prime Minister is held to a higher standard. As such, whether the police find the Prime Minister to have acted criminally is irrelevant since Sue Gray’s report is clear that he acted immorally in allowing the parties to take place and failing to take responsibility immediately.

“Since there is no way for the public to force the Prime Minister to resign, I hope that the publication of this report is sufficient for Angela Richardson to do the right thing and add her name to the list of MPs who have submitted their letters of no confidence to the Tory 1922 Committee.”

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Responses to Guildford’s Tory MP Quits Government Role Over ‘Partygate’ But Does Not Call for PM’s Resignation

  1. Andrew Eacott Reply

    January 31, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    Boris Johnson is under police investigation for holding parties in his flat during a lockdown when people weren’t allowed within two metres of non cohabiting family members. He repeatedly said, in parliament and elsewhere, that all rules and guidance was followed in No. 10 at all times. He is a liar and is clearly not fit to lead but he has no shame so we’re stuck with him until his party does the right thing or until the next general election.

    Sadly, it’s not in the least surprising that our MP has no real opinion on this mess apart from asking us to wait to see if any legal punishments will be handed out by the Met. As with Brexit, we’re no longer talking about good leadership, we’re quibbling over whether it was bad or really bad.

    Is this really what we deserve?

    • Jim Allen Reply

      February 1, 2022 at 10:04 am

      While I support Mrs Richardson’s stance. I am deeply concerned that those from other parties are actually twisting the knife with little understanding of ‘what any Prime Minister does with a “five-minute” schedule and constantly on the move across the country and world. Could anyone in that position actually know if the tea lady is washing the cup correctly or leaving her post early?

      I see this as a total lack of personal discipline in the workplace of all staff involved, including their managers for permitting such behaviour.

      As for the police investigation, Boris Johnson is not under police investigation personally, it is No 10 events which are being investigated and they may or may not include our democratically elected prime minister.

      So there should be less calling our prime minister a “liar” until the investigation is complete. Otherwise, what does it look like to the world if our Prime Minister has to cancel a call to one of the most war-mongering leaders of the world because of a sponge cake debate in Parliament?

      All those attending these so-called parties have already been punished for their poor discipline by actually catching Covid multiple times – like the Labour leader.

      Time to move on to the real concerns of the majority.

      • Keith Reeves Reply

        February 1, 2022 at 12:40 pm

        Jim Allen cannot know if the PM is under police investigation or not. Nor should it have to be explained yet again that the PM has lied.

        This is a shameless man who has been sacked twice for lying. He’s unfit to lead our country, and let’s face it was chosen by a very small electorate to lead his party. He won an election skewed by Brexit and is supported by people who have fallen for his act.

        We might get the governments we deserve but some of us think we deserve better and aspire to having a government that is honest, competent and caring.

        As for missing a call yesterday do you really think that Mr Putin takes our PM seriously?

      • Andrew Eacott Reply

        February 1, 2022 at 2:29 pm

        Let’s be clear – Boris Johnson is a proven liar. He has been sacked from at least two jobs prior to being elected PM, in both cases for lying. So I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that he appears to be at it again.

        We also know he personally attended at least two parties at No. 10, of the 12 being investigated by the police. One of which was in his own private apartment. Of course, he has the affairs of state to occupy him but are we seriously being asked to believe he didn’t notice hosting a party in his own living room ? Or that it completely slipped his mind when he repeatedly denied any such thing had taken place?

        I agree that these accusations are distracting him and the government from more pressing concerns, but I strongly disagree that we should all just forget about it and move on.

        How can a Prime Minister expect even a morsel of support from the electorate on difficult policies (like the manifesto-busting NI tax rise), when he has demonstrated himself to be so out of touch and untrustworthy, he doesn’t even know what a party looks like?

        When your PM can’t take diplomatic calls with the Ukraine because he’s too busy explaining his mistakes to Parliament, you have a problem and it isn’t one of the opposition’s making.

      • Ben Stonehouse Reply

        February 1, 2022 at 2:39 pm

        Boris is a proven liar and has already been sacked twice for it.

        The majority are not moving on, no matter how much anyone might want to wish it away.

      • Peter Shaw Reply

        February 1, 2022 at 8:41 pm

        I voted for Brexit so the country could ‘take back control’, have a ‘say over its own laws’ and all that rhetoric.

        Now finding out the rules and laws the government made weren’t being kept by those who set them. Utterly and truly disgusting.

        The Conservatives in Guildford need to understand the mood of the voters, and get out of there own echo chamber and bubble.

      • Sam Peters Reply

        February 2, 2022 at 12:57 pm

        Let’s grow up a bit here. Nobody can reasonably think that the PM ‘accidentally’ attended several parties, including those in his own house, whether or not he personally arranged them or the countless others hosted by other members of his government. Of course, this actually makes little difference. Part of being a leader is being responsible for your team.

        As for the lying, there is absolutely no need to wait for the results of this investigation before calling Boris Johnson a liar. Examples go back decades, in and out of politics.

        As for the idea that this isn’t a concern of the majority, how fortunate you are that apparently it isn’t a concern for you. For the millions of people who lost loved ones, or couldn’t go to the funerals of dying friends and family, or missed their children’s births, or suffered devastating mental, physical and emotional impacts thanks to following the rules set by this government, this is very much a matter of concern.

        Catching Covid isn’t a “punishment” for hosting multiple illegal parties. Fines and jail terms have been handed out by the Met and other police forces for some of these crimes, as was the law. Unless you think the PM and his government is above the law, then these punishments are just as liable for them as for anyone else.

        Lastly, we can care about more than one issue at a time. Just because I care about flagrant and repeated law-breaking in government, and the impact on public health generally as people rightly realise that the PM isn’t following the rules they’re being ordered to keep to, it doesn’t mean I can’t care about soaring poverty, inflation, cost of living, NHS privatisation, the climate crisis, corruption, dodgy covid contracts, child poverty, massive increases in hunger and foodbank use, public service cuts, attacks on democracy and fundamental rights, or any of the other issues this government has caused and exacerbated.

        Sam Peters is a spokesperson for The Green Party

      • David Roberts Reply

        February 2, 2022 at 2:55 pm

        Mr Allen cannot know that Boris Johnson is not under police investigation. On the contrary, it is quite likely they are considering charges more serious than breaking lockdown rules, which carries only a fixed penalty like a parking ticket. Otherwise, they would have no reason to fear that early publication of Sue Gray’s full report might prejudice investigations presumably leading to trial by jury.

        My money would be on misconduct in public office or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

        Johnson has been aptly compared to a greased piglet for his ability to wriggle out of anything and, for now, he has been reprieved. But the next scandal will be along soon, and his deep character flaws are certain to finish him off sooner rather than later. Britain is hobbled until he goes: witness, for instance, how he had to scrap his scheduled phone call with Putin about Ukraine, compared with Macron’s two long conversations with the Russian president this week.

        Until the Tories eject their leader and return to their One Nation, centre-right roots, Britain cannot move on from the disastrous populist politics that propelled this shambolic man (and Corbyn too) into high public office.

      • John Schluter Reply

        February 2, 2022 at 3:51 pm

        I fear Jim Allen’s blue scarf is a little too tightly wound round his neck.

        He wrote: that Boris Johnson had a “five-minute schedule” and was constantly on the move across the country and world.

        At the time, international travel was virtually halted, and domestic movement was severely restricted. I am not sure what a “five-minute schedule” is?

        He also wrote: “I see this as a total lack of personal discipline in the workplace of all staff involved, including their managers for permitting such behaviour.”

        So Mr Allen, acknowledges that there was a failure and blames the staff and their managers. But who is their ultimate manager?

        Then he says: “As for the police investigation, Boris Johnson is not under police investigation personally, it is No 10 events which are being investigated and they may or may not include our democratically elected prime minister.”

        I refer back to the question who the current resident of No 10 is who wields all the power over who does what, where and when?

        Next quote: “So there should be less calling our prime minister a “liar” until the investigation is complete.” But the PM has been sacked twice for lying, once from The Times and once by the Conservative party.

        Next: “All those attending these so-called parties have already been punished for their poor discipline by actually catching Covid multiple times – like the Labour leader.”

        All of them? On multiple occasions? Where are your verifiable statistics that confirm that all the attendees caught Covid? Who were they and when were they infected? I’ll be really intrigued to read Mr Allen’s medical insight into this bombshell. Hopefully they all survived.

        I am not sure why the Labour leader’s having caught Covid a few times has any resonance?

        As for the comment “Time to move on to the real concerns of the majority.” I rest my case m’lud: It seems I am not the only one.

      • Gerry Sherry Reply

        February 4, 2022 at 2:18 pm

        What mealy-mouthed excuses for a contemptible prime minister. I see the persistent and routine breach of Covid rules by Boris Johnson and his staff as misconduct in public office, and I expect the Metropolitan Police to bring criminal charges against all those involved.

  2. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    February 1, 2022 at 5:35 am

    What Angela Richardson means is that it is not yet clear which way the wind will blow. No doubt we will see her take a moral stance just as it becomes clear that Boris Johnson is on his way out.

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    February 1, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Lawbreakers should pay their own penalties for that, but don’t get rid of Boris Johnson until you’re sure you’ve found someone better as PM. I think Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are too pushy for promoting their own agenda. The PM should be someone who, with his Cabinet, is prepared to do the bidding of Parliament instead of trying to tell Parliament what to do.

    How about Keir Starmer if he can accept working with a largely conservative cabinet for a majority Conservative Parliament, possibly aided by Lord Adonis who was the most knowledgeable about railways of recent past transport ministers? You can keep Liz and Rishi in their current roles for now, but overall the Cabinet should be the most capable people across the whole political spectrum, composed of people willing to carry out the wishes of Parliament rather than their own agenda.

    I think the whole government has made a mess of Brexit, but just changing the PM for one of his close colleagues might even make matters worse, with an even harder line on Brexit and foreign policy in general.

  4. Anthony Mallard Reply

    February 1, 2022 at 10:34 am

    I am not going to put a party political perspective on the current disgraceful situation in government. However, I hold strongly to the view that the current prime minister has brought disgrace to his high office and shame on our nation. We must be a laughing stock around the world.

    In past times, any one of the matters, recently publicised, whether it be getting someone else to pay for the redecoration of the Downing Street flat, the abysmal saga of Owen Paterson or now “multi-partygate” would have taken the honourable course and resigned.

    The position is compounded by those who, in supporting the Prime Minister, have put their own careers above the national interest. Whilst I await the outcome of the current police investigation, I am sceptical as to whether it will be able to be truly independent.

    In recent years governments, of all political persuasion, have politicised both the service and senior appointments, decimated budgets and reduced its ability to act without fear or favour. I hope I may be proved wrong.

    What an unedifying mess.

  5. David Williams Reply

    February 1, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    The Prime Minister had an extremely difficult job during the pandemic. Unprecedented. No-one could have achieved 100% perfection. Enough has been said about parties. Move on.

    The Tories will not be electable until they stop in-flighting. Take note Mrs Richardson.

  6. John Perkins Reply

    February 1, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    Many thanks to those willing to give up their time to incessantly remind us we have left the EU.

    • Andrew Eacott Reply

      February 2, 2022 at 7:09 pm

      I’m grateful to John Perkins for his thanks to those using their time to point out just how badly Brexit is going. It’s particularly relevant to the current discussion given a large part of Vote Leave’s promises were built on lies sold by our current PM.

      I wonder why we need to raise Nationa Insurance to fund the NHS when we have that £350m Brexit dividend burning a hole in our pocket?

  7. Jim Allen Reply

    February 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    I do so like stirring the pot. But I point out my stance as to guilty or innocent is neutral.

    As to who brought disgrace to high office could it be the voters for electing our current prime minister in the full knowledge of who he was and is?

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      February 3, 2022 at 10:59 pm

      I prefer logical, factual comment to pointless pot stirring.

  8. Anthony Mallard Reply

    February 2, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    I regret to point out to Jim Allen that it is the Conservative MPs who elect the Party Leader and thus the Prime Minister. The next question as to why on earth they did it I leave for more knowledgeable insiders than me.

    • John Perkins Reply

      February 4, 2022 at 10:50 am

      I would like to point out to Anthony Mallard that the term ‘voters’ covers both the electorate who returned Johnson as an MP and the MPs who elected him PM.

      Why they did it is a matter for them alone.

  9. Sam Peters Reply

    April 3, 2022 at 10:56 am

    This is factually incorrect. Richardson attempted to pull the wool over her constituents’ eyes by releasing the news of her resignation in the same statement as a short one on that particular scandal, but in fact had already resigned a week earlier, ostensibly to spend more time on local constituency issues.

    This article should be amended to reflect that fact.

    Editor’s comment: In the article, Angela Richardson is quoted saying: “Last week, I stepped back from my governmental responsibilities to invest more of my time realising the campaigns that I am working on for the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.” So the timing of the resignation is clear.

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