December 8, 2021 5.29 pm

Three Lincolnshire MPs respond to Downing Street Christmas party scandal

70% of our MPs did not respond

In the latest government scandal surrounding alleged Christmas parties held at 10 Downing Street in the middle of lockdown last year, The Lincolnite has contacted all Greater Lincolnshire MPs about the matter. Just two have replied to us, and another to local radio.

The story was first reported by The Daily Mirror on November 30, where it was claimed that the Prime Minister’s staff broke the government’s own COVID-19 rules by holding festive parties at 10 Downing Street in the run up to Christmas last year.

A party, which allegedly saw 40 to 50 people in attendance on December 18, took place while London was in tier 3 lockdown restrictions, which stated that indoor mixing was banned and prompted thousands to spend their holidays away from their families.

The saga became uglier when videos emerged of Leader of the House of Commons and Conservative MP Jacob-Rees Mogg laughing and joking about the COVID breaches at this year’s Christmas Party for the Institue of Economic Affairs, saying “this party is not going to be investigated by the police in a year’s time.”

Then, on Tuesday, December 8, ITV obtained footage of the Prime Minister’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton bursting into laughter discussing the party last year, as part of a mock TV briefing hosted by a number of Boris Johnson’s advisers.

Stratton is seen saying in the video: “This fictional party was a business meeting and was not socially distanced” between spates of chuckling, despite the Conservatives later denying the event took place. Stratton has now resigned as a government adviser after intense backlash from the video.

The findings prompted an explosive Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, with SNP leader Ian Blackford calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation, and the PM responding by accusing the opposition parties of “playing politics”.

Mr Johnson did begin PMQs by apologising for the video of staff “making light” of COVID-19 rules, and called for a full inquiry into whether there were any breaches, despite still repeating that there was no party.

MP for Cleethorpes Martin Vickers and Scunthorpe’s Holly Mumby-Croft were the only ones of Greater Lincolnshire’s ten members of parliament to respond to The Lincolnite‘s questioning, which asked for their stance on the issue, whether they were aware of or attended the reported party, and if the public can be expected to listen to proposed COVID-19 regulation given the recent findings of what seem to be government breaches.

Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft

Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft with Boris Johnson.

Mumby-Croft said that she was working with residents in her constituency last Christmas, and shares the feeling of sacrifice made by the public last Christmas under lockdown restrictions.

“Like many residents, I have always done everything I can to follow all coronavirus rules during the time they were in place. This meant for me like many residents, I was not able to have the Christmas gatherings that I would have wanted to have with my family last year.

“Indeed I was working with residents last Christmas, and I know firsthand the personal sacrifices they made during that difficult time.

“Having privately voiced my frank views to the government yesterday, it is good to see that the Prime Minister has made an apology in the House of Commons and that he has instructed the Cabinet Secretary to conduct a full investigation into this matter.

“Furthermore, he has committed to publishing a report of the Cabinet Secretary’s findings in the Commons, to cooperate with the police as necessary, and that those who have behaved inappropriately shall be punished.

“I’m very mindful of the strength of feeling on this issue and I want to reassure residents that I will of course wait for the report with interest but in the meantime I will prioritise my work for our area.”

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mr Vickers told The Lincolnite that he didn’t know if there was a party, and was not in attendance of one, before saying: “10 Downing Street is a warren of passages and small offices and what I suspect is the case is that staff in one or two of those offices got together for a Christmas drink.

“The idea that this would have taken place with the Prime Minister’s authority or even his knowledge is fanciful. That said if it took place in contravention of the restrictions that were in force at the time that is wrong and senior staff should have stepped in.”

“However, on the basis of the buck stops with the PM I welcome that he has apologised and instructed the Cabinet Secretary to investigate and take the appropriate disciplinary action.

“Of course I can understand how my constituents feel about this and I share their anger and frustration.”

“I have great faith in the British people to do what is right and I have no doubt that if it is necessary to introduce new restrictions, providing they are seen as proportionate to the threat, the vast majority will follow them.”

Grimsby MP Lia Nici

Lia Nici won the Great Grimsby seat for the Conservatives for the first time in 74 years.

Lia Nici, Conservative MP for Great Grimsby, did not respond to The Lincolnite but did give an interview to BBC Radio Humberside, where she said: “Number 10 is a functioning office, and line managers need to deal with this.

“If this was a whistleblower who had good intentions, they should have whistleblown this at the time, or the following day, and that should have then gone through the proper disciplinary procedures in any workplace.”

County Councillor Colin Davie

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Councillor for Economy and Place at Lincolnshire County Council. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Conservative Lincolnshire County Councillor Colin Davie said the headlines were “not pleasant to read as a member of the party”.

“We elect out politicians to make our laws for our society, and laws and rules apply not just to those who are not the law makers, but the lawmakers themselves.

“I would be extremely disappointed if it comes to pass that evidence is produced that clearly shows those rules and laws we’re all living with here in Lincolnshire, were not being obeyed by people in Westminster.”

The seven local MPs who did not respond to us by the time of publication are:

  • Karl McCartney – Lincoln
  • Caroline Johnson – Sleaford & North Hykeham
  • Matt Warman – Boston & Skegness
  • Victoria Atkins – Louth & Horncastle
  • Edward Leigh – Gainsborough
  • Gareth Davies – Grantham and Stamford
  • John Hayes – South Holland and The Deepings

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