NORTH East politicians have given a less than enthusiastic backing to Boris Johnson and have turned into “shy Tories”, it has been claimed.

According to the Press Association, some Conservatives, who like their Labour and Lib Dem rivals, are normally publicity hungry appear to have turned “shy”.

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Calls have gone unanswered and comments have not been forthcoming, and public statements have remained un-tweeted.

None of those who did comment said the Prime Minister should resign, but the responses were “a mixed bag” of evasion, faint praise and fence sitting after the Prime Minister apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” party at Downing Street during lockdown.

Ben Houchen, elected mayor for Tees Valley and seen by some as a rising figure in the Tory Party, was not commenting on the issue, a member of his staff said.

Councillor Heather Scott, Tory leader of Darlington Borough Council, was unavailable to speak to PA as she was busy with meetings, her office said.

Yesterday it was reported by The Northern Echo that just two North East Conservatives replies to our request for comment, Peter Gibson and Jacob Young, who accepted the PM’s apology.

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

Mr Howell has since responded and said “nobody is above the law and those who make the rules cannot retain credibility if they are found to have broken the rules themselves”

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.”

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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.

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.”

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.

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

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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