This is a statement which I've drawn up to answer everyone who's emailed me over the last two or three weeks and those who've been messaging me with various questions both today (about the Conservative MPs Vote of Confidence on the PM). I thought it easiest to try and answer all the main questions together - and please do feel free to share this with any other constituent. Thank you.
Statement on the PM:
As a rule - rightly or wrongly - I don't leap to condemnation of other politicians, whether of my party or others. My Twitter, Facebook page and citywide newspapers for the last 15 years as candidate for 3 and MP for 12 will confirm that. Things are very rarely absolutely wrong or absolutely perfect.
Equally it is unlikely that any democratic leader will ever satisfy most of his or her own nation, where such votes are freely allowed. Zelensky of Ukraine is the only elected politician with autocrat like ratings, rather as Churchill would have done at times during WW2 here.
So, my answers to constituents' main questions:
Should the PM resign after the Gray Report?
The Gray Report made very uncomfortable reading. The culture during the pandemic of many working at No10 was not what was demanded of the rest of us, and strong leadership was lacking. The report also recognised that changes have been made since the first criticisms a while back.
I do not think in itself that this report is a resignation issue. But the PM was absolutely right to apologise for all that took place on his watch in No10 even if he did not know about some of the incidents and wasn't there for them (eg the infamous party on the eve of the funeral for HRH Prince Philip).
Should the PM resign for having received a FPN from the Police investigation?
I covered this in my last statement (https://www.richardgraham.org/news/statement-police-investigation-parties-no10-during-lockdown). The additional events investigated have resulted in 126 fines to 83 people, but no other notice to the PM, Chancellor or any other elected politician. There is therefore nothing to add to what I wrote earlier on this, which recognised this was the first time a serving PM had been fined.
It is fair to note that both the Labour Party Leader and Deputy Party Leader are being investigated by the police in Durham over an event that both attended. The Labour Party had maintained for over a year that their Deputy Leader was not there, but this has turned out to be untrue.
What about further rumours of other parties / photos in No10?
I am suspicious of anyone claiming to know more at this stage: they have had a very long time to feed information in to either Sue Gray or the police.
Hasn't the PM frequently lied and lost the trust of the public?
I wrote in April that the crucial question of the Partygate issue was whether the PM had deliberately misled Parliament.
Neither the Gray report nor the Police investigation attempted to answer that question: it is rightly the responsibility of the House of Commons Privileges Committee, which starts work on this now, chaired by Harriet Harman.
Deliberately misleading Parliament is usually a resignation issue, so the report and any subsequent vote on it is important.
But hasn't the PM changed the Ministerial Code so this isn't the case any longer?
No. The PM did make some changes to the code, on the earlier recommendations of the Committee of Public Standards chair (a former Head of the Security Service).
But there are no changes to most of it, including the part that covers the assumption of resignation for deliberately misleading Parliament.
Isn’t this all a massive distraction from much more important questions like the Cost of Living, inflation and Ukraine?
Yes of course the government must focus on constituents' priorities like these. I'm constantly thinking about how I can encourage constituents eligible for pension credit to claim: how to encourage people in real need to apply for help from the council's hardship fund, as well as looking e.g at how the government's diplomacy can help release more oil from OPEC nations. But our General Elections elect MPs not leaders: and any leader has to have the confidence of its elected representatives to tackle key issues.
If Boris Johnson isn't PM will Brexit be at risk?
No. The issue of who leads our Party and government is completely separate from our relationship with the EU. Whomever is PM would need to resolve issues in Northern Ireland, enable more trade with the EU, continue to work closely on defence and security issues with European partners and look at regulatory opportunities from leaving the EU carefully. No major party is campaigning on re-joining the EU.
But this is about trust - have you sent in your letter to the Chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs?
Trust is absolutely key to politics: no-one votes for someone they have strong reason not to trust. The PM has to show that he can restore trust if he is to continue as PM.
As a I wrote in April, a private letter to the 1922 Committee Chair is just that - private.
And how will you vote this evening in the Conservative MPs Vote of Confidence on the PM?
It's a secret ballot and I won't make public how I vote. But I strongly encourage any and all constituents to let me know your views on the PM, and who in your opinion is the best person to lead our country - whether the PM or anyone else by e mail on firstname.lastname@example.org