TORIES in former ‘Red Wall’ seats of the North East are either showing support for their beleaguered leader or keeping shtum following his eventual apology for a lockdown party at Downing Street.

The Northern Echo contacted the region’s Conservative MPs to gauge their views as Boris Johnson accepted responsibility for a drinks gathering at Number 10 for his staff.

Calls of ‘resign’ and ‘go’ reverberated around the House of Commons earlier today leaving the Prime Minister, who repeatedly apologised and referred members to the official inquiry, looking deflated.

Just two North East Conservatives replied to our request, Peter Gibson and Jacob Young, who accepted the PM’s apology.

The Northern Echo:

Richard Holden, Dehenna Davison and Paul Howell 

But the three County Durham Conservatives, Dehenna Davison, for Bishop Auckland, Paul Howell, for Sedgefield, and Richard Holden, for North-West Durham, failed to respond.

Labour’s North Durham MP Kevan Jones said: “People are angry because the Prime Minister will not be straight with them.

“I am not sure County Durham Tories’ silence will go down very well with their constituents.

“You can’t just go to ground. You cannot not have an opinion on this. They were the same over Cummings.”

The party in Downing Street took place two days before news of Dominic Cummings’ now infamous trip to Durham from London was revealed in the national press.

The Northern Echo:

Peter Gibson 

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: “I have previously voiced my anger and frustration at the news that events were held at Number 10 Downing Street that may have contravened rules and guidance set out.

“I know many constituents share this anger about conduct in Downing Street and the further allegations which have emerged this week.

“I am glad that the Prime Minister came before MPs today to apologise for his actions, which he knows have upset and angered many people in Darlington who made extraordinary sacrifices during the pandemic to keep us all safe.

“While the Prime Minister reiterated his belief that the event fell in line with guidance at the time, it is right that we wait for the result of Sue Gray’s investigation.

“I trust that this inquiry will establish the facts in this matter and determine exactly what happened in Downing Street and whether rules were broken.

“I want to reiterate my belief that if rules have been broken, I expect those individuals to be subjected to the same consequences as any other person.”

The Northern Echo:

Jacob Young 

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "My grandad died without us on 16th April 2020.  We held his funeral on the 1st May, where only 10 people attended. It was one of the hardest days of my life, and made worse because I didn’t hug my Mam and Dad.

"I understand the upset and anger felt by many in the country following the latest revelations from Downing Street.  

"I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for his apology and his brief explanation. The inquiry should now be allowed to do its work and establish the full facts of what happened.

"We must never let our loved ones die alone again."

Read more: County Durham residents call on Prime Minister to step down

Labour MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham said he had received emails and messages from constituents detailing how they said ‘goodbye’ to loved ones under tragic circumstances – often through iPads – and unable to hug family members at funerals.

He said: “It appears as if we have all been played for fools, abiding by the rules while Number 10 partied.

“The Prime Minister’s refusal to answer straight answers, and his hiding behind inquiries, does nothing to address the concerns of the British public and holds us all in contempt.

“We need straight answers now, not later down the line, and accountability from the Prime Minister.”

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