People In The Real World Don't Care About Partygate, New Commons Leader Claims

Mark Spencer said voters were more concerned with the rising cost of living and NHS backlog.
Spencer was moved from his role as chief whip following a torrid few weeks for the prime minister
Spencer was moved from his role as chief whip following a torrid few weeks for the prime minister
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

People in the “real world” do not care about the row about alleged Downing Street lockdown parties, the new Commons leader Mark Spencer has said.

Spencer, who was moved from his role as chief whip in Boris Johnson’s mini reshuffle, said “normal people” were more concerned about the cost of living crisis and the NHS backlog.

He spoke out as a new picture emerged of Boris Johnson at a Number 10 quiz with a bottle of sparkling wine and a colleague with tinsel round his neck.

The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that they were re-assessing whether to launch a criminal evidence into the gathering.

But in an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham, Spencer said: “When you get out into the real world and you talk to real people, my experience is they are saying to me ‘you know what really matters to me is the cost of my energy bills, the NHS backlog post-Covid, making sure the economy is growing and my job is secure’.

“When I’m meeting normal people...they want to talk about their lives and I think there’s a danger politicians spend to much time talking about themselves and the Westminster bubble, and not enough time focused on real-world issues.”

Asked whether he was suggesting it did not matter if Johnson had lied about the parties, Spencer replied: “No, absolutely not.”

He added: “I think it’s fair to say Downing Street didn’t get everything right, but let’s focus on the real world here, people are worrying about their jobs, worrying about the NHS.”

Spencer also said he stood by comments he made in December, when he said that the prime minister “will not have lied about any parties”.

“It doesn’t really stack up looking back now, does it?” the interviewer asked.

“I think it does actually,” Spencer said. “Again the police are looking at this.”

“We know there were parties... we’ve seen pictures!” the presenter interjected.

Spencer replied: “Clearly people were having a drink, I’ve done that. I’ve had a drink of alcohol during Covid.”

In total the Met is looking into 12 alleged parties in Whitehall and Downing Street and examining around 300 photographs as part of the investigation.

Spencer was moved from his role as chief whip following a torrid few weeks for the prime minister, in which a number of backbenchers either submitted letters of no confidence or publicly criticised his behaviour.

As chief whip he was also held responsible for the botched government attempt to protect Owen Paterson over a lobbying row.

That led to Paterson quitting as an MP and the Lib Dems subsequently winning his seat at the resulting by-election.

Spencer’s move to Commons leader was described as “completely inappropriate” by Labour due to the fact he is under investigation over claims by Tory MP Nusrat Ghani that he said her “Muslimness was raised as an issue” by colleagues when she lost her job as transport minister

Spencer confirmed that Johnson’s ethics chief Lord Geidt would conduct that investigation.

He has previously denied Ghani’s claims, which he said were false and “defamatory”.

“It’s a bit rough not being able to defend yourself until the results of that investigation come forward,” he said.


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