For several months I, along with others, have been concerned about the events surrounding social gatherings at 10 Downing Street during the Coronavirus pandemic. As constituents will know, I do not immediately call for people to resign when the media engage in the kind of frenzy that has occurred over these incidents, preferring to wait for the facts to be established. It was clear last November, however, that events could culminate in a vote of no confidence and that moment has now arrived.
Some people are using this as an opportunity to remove the Prime Minister through a means that does not involve a general election and have been seeking his defenestration since he was first appointed Prime Minister. I do not condone the events that occurred in Downing Street - having friends who could not attend funerals during lockdown - but a sense of perspective is needed. Boris Johnson has not led the UK into an illegal war; he has not committed a criminal offence; he has not used his office for electoral advantage.
Some constituents have written to me to say they won't vote for me as a Conservative candidate if I don't vote against the Prime Minister. I believe I have always demonstrated that, whatever the issue, I vote in the way that I think is appropriate. Sometime this has been against the Government and sometimes with them. I have never voted to curry favour with a particular viewpoint for electoral gain. There is no doubt that mistakes have been made within 10 Downing Street. However, on the big issues, the vaccine programme was a great success and assistance to Ukraine has been incredible. In politics as in life, you take the rough with the smooth.
During this whole episode I believe that the Metropolitan Police unfortunately took contrary stances. They first decided there was nothing to investigate and then decided there was. Fining some people early for attending meetings was reprehensible, while the decision not to fine others in attendance at the same events was inexplicable. Other police services around the country decided that no retrospective actions should be taken when allegations of illegal gatherings emerged and it remains baffling how those who travelled the length of the UK in the full knowledge that they were infected with the virus were not afterwards subject to sanctions. This exposes an anomaly in the law whereby different standards are applied to different individuals, despite the fact that all should be equal before the law.
During the Brexit debate I was characterised as a hard Leaver by the Labour Party and as a Remainer by UKIP - but I couldn't have been both. The experience showed me that people will take what they want from my comments or actions to suit their own narratives. The same is now occurring in the ballot in the Prime Minister.
Therefore, I shall vote in person in the confidence ballot on the Prime Minister - in the way that I believe to be right.