Senior Tory Says Boris Johnson Must Show 'Real Contrition' Over Partygate

Exclusive: Robert Halfon says the prime minister must take "full responsibility" if the government is to win back the trust of voters.
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Boris Johnson must show “real contrition” over parties held in Downing Street during lockdown and take “full responsibility”, a senior Conservative MP has said.

Robert Halfon, the chair of the Commons education committee and former minister, said rather than “operation red meat” the cabinet needed to focus on “operation cut the cost of living”.

Writing for HuffPost UK on Thursday, he said: “Without doubt, we have all been upset and let down by the Downing St. parties.

“Given the sacrifices made by the public during the lockdowns, it is hardly a surprise that so many people feel upset and angry. The question is whether they will forgive the government.

“Speaking to my constituents in Harlow, I believe there is a chance this may happen, that is, if real contrition is shown and full responsibility for what has occurred is taken.”

Halfon said “the public might just get back on side” if the cabinet “relentlessly” focuses on dealing with the cost of living and social justice, transforming education and skills and building affordable housing.

The Met is currently investigating 12 alleged parties held at the top of government during the Covid lockdowns.

The prime minister faces the prospect of being issued with a fine if the police decide he broke his own lockdown rules.

Johnson has until 10pm on Friday to complete and return a questionnaire to the Met setting out his case.

He has refused to say whether he would resign if he is handed a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

A handful of Tory MPs are known to have submitted letters of no confidence in Johnson’s leadership following the revelations.

If he is found to have broken the rules by the police, then more letters could be sent in.

A total of 54 letters would need to be handed in to Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, to trigger a confidence vote.

It came as an Ipsos UK poll published on Thursday showed half of Britons now think Johnson has been a bad prime minister – a jump of 13 points from last year.


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