What Yorkshire MPs are - and aren't - saying about the future of Boris Johnson after Partygate

A fourteenth Conservative MP has called for Boris Johnson to go - but Yorkshire’s Tory Parliamentarians are largely keeping their counsel in public about the Prime Minister’s future.

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb followed Staffordshire MP Aaron Bell on Friday in sending letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister, making nine Conservatives to confirm publicly they have done so.

A further five, including Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, have publicly called on Mr Johnson to go.

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A total of 54 Tory MPs - representing 15 per cent of the Parliamentary party - must submit letters for a formal vote of no confidence to be triggered but have no requirement to make public that they have done so.

In response to an open letter by Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson asking where they stand, only four of the region’s Conservative MPs replied to set out their position.

Mr Davis said his comments last month in Parliament calling for the Prime Minister to go still stand. He said earlier this week he was still yet to submit a letter of no confidence.

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said while Mr Johnson currently has his “full support”, he will review his position following the conclusion of the police investigation into Partygate and the publication of the associated Sue Gray report.

He said: “Of course I am concerned about the current allegations but I do adhere to the very important principle of innocence until proven guilty.

Boris Johnson is facing growing criticism from his own MPs.

"As such, the Prime Minister has my full support at least until such as the police investigation has concluded and the full Gray Report is published and I will review my position at that time.”

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, who said last month that the claim the May 20 Downing Street garden gathering “was a work-related event will not wash with the British public”, said the unredacted Sue Gray report “needs to be published as soon as possible so our actions in response can be fully informed”.

But Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher offered qualified support for the Prime Minister.

He said: “I understand the feelings of the people of Doncaster. I feel the same. However, I do not believe a leadership election, at this time, is the best thing for the country.”

While other MPs in the region did not respond to Mr Mitchinson’s letter, some have set out their position in other public forums.

In a Facebook post on January 28, Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici said: “I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister. I see how hard he works - taking no time out when his children were born, or after he came out of hospital having had Covid. The day after, he was back at work chairing the Cabinet meeting.”

In a website statement on January 25, Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said that despite the Partygate allegations being “horrendous”, Mr Johnson still retains his support.

“Unless the Gray report produces an outcome that makes the PM’s position untenable, I believe we should back him 100 per cent and refocus on delivering for the country,” he said.

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said on Facebook on January 12 that he would await the findings of the Sue Gray report. In recent days on Twitter, he has retweeted supportive messages about the Prime Minister from other MPs and on January 31 wrote: “Boris was elected to do a job. He must be allowed to get on with it.”

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said on his website on January 19 of the Downing Street garden party that “most people would question how anyone could think this gathering had been within the rules”.

He said he had been asked by “many” to submit a letter of no confidence but would not disclose whether or not he would,

“My discussions with the Chair of the 1922 Committee are and will remain confidential in the same way that my correspondence with constituents is confidential. That is because if an MP says they have submitted a letter, something may happen and they might withdraw it. If they haven’t submitted a letter yet they may tomorrow.

"Giving a day-by-day running commentary of whether one has or has not submitted a letter, withdrawn a letter or re-submitted it is pointless.

“However I can assure constituents I treat the allegations, appearance and admissions of wrongdoing seriously and I am in no way sympathetic to fancy words or formulae that allow anyone to pretend they were at a work event when they clearly were not.”

In Parliament on Monday following the publication of Sue Gray’s update, Mr Jones asked the Prime Minister to confirm that the Gray report would be published in full “at the earliest opportunity”.

Mr Johnson replied: “What we will do is wait until the police have concluded their inquiries, and then see what more we can publish. That is what we are going to do.”

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford, who has recently been appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary giving him a formal role within Government, tweeted in support of the Prime Minister on Thursday night following the departure of four Downing Street aides.

He wrote: “On Monday the Prime Minister promised to radically reform how Number 10 operates. It is clear that today he is keeping his word by having a wholesale clearout, to create a better more dynamic operation.”

Leaked WhatsApp messages showed pro-Johnson Tory MPs had encouraged others to tweet supportive messages with similar wording.

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams, who is a Cabinet Office minister, retweeted a supportive message on the same night from Wolverhampton South West MP Stuart Anderson.

It read: “On Monday Boris Johnson promised MPs change. Tonight we see that change starting to happen and I welcome this quick action by the Prime Minster.”

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