As I have said previously to my constituents and elsewhere in public, following events surrounding parties in Downing Street during lockdown, and the findings of the Sue Gray report, I had looked to the Prime Minister to outline a timetable and process for an orderly transition to a leadership election as soon as the situation in Ukraine permitted. I believed that destabilising the UK Government at this point would undermine international efforts to support the Ukrainian people and bring the despicable Russian invasion to an end. However, this did not happen and the Conservative Party acted by calling for a vote of no confidence. For the reasons I have outlined in my public statements, I expressed a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson in that 1922 Committee vote. 41% of my parliamentary colleagues also voted in this way.
As I stated following that vote, I had sincerely hoped that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet would reflect on this result closely and act accordingly.
Unfortunately, since this vote, news has since come to light of allegations of serious misconduct by the then Deputy Chief Whip, and the subsequent knowledge of the Prime Minister prior to his appointment to the position. I want to make clear that as I have said previously on matters relating to the Prime Minister, I will not defend the indefensible. I am upset not only with the allegations, but with the Prime Minister’s conduct in relation to them and the actual appointment to this role in February. The role of Deputy Chief Whip is not only a senior Government role, but one that oversees pastoral care towards Conservative Members of Parliament. The nature and handling of this episode serves as further evidence of a need for change at the heart of Government. I fully support the response of my colleagues who have resigned their ministerial positions following these developments, making what I know cannot be easy decisions to make.
I hope that following these further developments, the Prime Minister will take the right and moral step and resign. However, if this is not forthcoming, then I believe it would be an appropriate step for the Parliamentary Party to facilitate another vote of confidence.
Once again, I want to make clear that this is not about Brexit, Remain or Leave, or part of a campaign by the media or the Opposition. This is about honesty and integrity in politics. Please know that I want to be clear that I will never defend the indefensible, and it is time for change at the top now.