'I stand by that decision' - Waveney MP reiterates call for PM to quit
- Credit: PA
Waveney MP Peter Aldous has maintained his stance that prime minister Boris Johnson should resign.
Speaking to this newspaper on Thursday - following publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties during the coronavirus lockdown - Mr Aldous reaffirmed his position of recent months.
Coming almost four months after he had publicly called on the prime minister to resign over the handling of the Partygate scandal, Mr Aldous revealed he "stands by" his previous views.
Now, after publication of the full, un-redacted 59-page report from civil servant Sue Gray into Covid lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, the Conservative MP said: "My position is as it has been for the last four months.
"I went to the 1922 committee meeting on Wednesday evening and the PM was certainly more contrite than he had been on previous occasions and recognised there had been major errors.
"With regards to the report that came out on January 31, it was redacted with the evidence linked to the police investigations taken out.
"This report has put that evidence back in and the PM made an observation that there has been work on improving the culture and accountability in Downing Street."
Of the un-redacted report, Mr Aldous said: "The evidence that has been published highlights some pretty unsavoury incidents and issues - including being dismissive of security staff and cleaners, bringing in karaoke machines, individuals being sick, two individuals involved in a minor altercation, wine spilt on walls and a swing being damaged.
"I am afraid it really did confirm the view I had expressed earlier - and that remains the situation now."
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After submitting a letter to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Backbench Conservative MPs, Sir Graham Brady, in February, advising he had no confidence in Mr Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party, Mr Aldous said: "I submitted the letter at the beginning of February, it is still there and I stand by that decision today.
"If I wished to withdraw that letter I could, but I have not done that.
"Yes, the situation has moved on - with the cost of living crisis and Ukraine conflict upon us now.
"There was not a war at the end of January, that is now happening, and the indications are that its going to go on for some time.
"These issues have come along, and there are also serious challenges with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
"My feelings are that this particular matter won't go away over time as there is the referral of the PM to the Privileges Committee over whether he knowingly misled Parliament."
Last month MPs agreed to refer Mr Johnson to a Privileges Committee probe to investigate whether he misled Parliament for the repeated denials about Downing Street parties during lockdown - with Mr Aldous backing the motion that this should be examined.
Mr Aldous said: "Such a referral in itself is very, very unusual, and that is likely to drag on for some time.
"My sense is that this has divided people, and there are very different views on it.
"A lot of people are very, very unhappy with what happened."
While the number of letters submitted to the 1922 Committee remain a closely-guarded secret, if 54 letters of no confidence from Conservative MPs are received - which equates to at least 15 per cent - it could trigger a leadership contest.
Mr Aldous' stance came in contrast to neighbouring MP for Great Yarmouth, Brandon Lewis, and Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey, who allied themselves to the prime minister.
Mr Lewis Tweeted: "The Met investigation has concluded and Sue Gray has completed and published her report.
"The PM has apologised unreservedly and is already implementing her recommendations for change.
"We must now get on and deliver for the British public, as they rightly expect."
Ms Coffey Tweeted: "PM responded to Sue Gray's report.
"In recognising the hurt many people felt, again the PM apologised and took responsibility for mistakes made.
"I welcome changes and our full focus on tackling the cost of living challenges faced by families across the UK."