Suffolk and Essex MPs react to latest Downing Street lockdown party claims

Cabinet meeting

Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister's principal private secretary, and Dan Rosenfield, the Prime Minister's chief of staff sitting behind Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a recent cabinet meeting - Credit: PA

The latest lockdown party revelations from Downing Street are putting more pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson - but MPs in this area are waiting to see the result of the official inquiry before rushing to judgement.

The latest row is centred on a drinks party in the Number 10 garden for staff which was held on May 20, 2020 - the day government ministers changed the official lockdown rules to allow people to meet just one person from outside their household in a public space.

An invitation to the party was sent by the Prime Minister's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds to 100 members of Downing Street staff, asking them to "bring your own booze." Between 30 and 40 turned up and there have been reports that Boris and Carrie Johnson were there for part of the time.

Clacton MP Giles Watling was irritated by the new reports - repeating what he has said in the past: "I've always said rule-makers cannot be rule-breakers and this does not sound good. Certainly I have heard much concern about these reports from my constituents.

"We will have to wait to see the report and you cannot write off the Prime Minister - he has proved very resilient in the past so we will have to see what happens."

The "wait and see" approach is being followed by other MPs although many have concerns about the regular news of further social events during lockdown.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: "These reports do not look good, and it is important that the investigation currently underway concludes in a timely manner and the police are involved as may be appropriate.

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"Should the investigation find that serious wrongdoing has taken place, then the position of a number of senior figures in Downing Street may well be untenable."

He would not comment on whether Mr Johnson's own position was under threat - but he did say that the Prime Minister would have to be interviewed personally about his knowledge and involvement in what happened.

Dr Dan Poulter and Tom Hunt have backed Matt Hancock to continue as West Suffolk MP. Pictured: Back

Suffolk's MPs have all been asked for their views on the latest revelations - but not all have responded - Credit: Elaine Bryce

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: “I’m deeply troubled by the revelations that broke in the media yesterday. Clearly the facts of the situation need to come to light urgently.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous felt it was important that the latest revelations should be added to the inquiry under way by senior civil servant Sue Gray: "We have to wait and see what her findings are - and I hope this does not take too long."

Senior backbencher and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said it would not be right to comment before the results of the inquiry were published. "I understand that will be published within the next two or three weeks," he added.

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said he did not wish to comment. 

We phoned all MPs in Suffolk. There was no reply from James Cartlidge, Therese Coffey or Jo Churchill's phones. We left them text messages asking for a comment and are still awaiting a response.

Colchester MP and junior minister Will Quince asked for the question to be e-mailed to him at his Westminster office and said he would respond later.