A COUNTY Durham MP has been branded “clueless” and “tone deaf” after he claimed that his constituents want to “move on” from the Number Ten lockdown party allegations – amid Sue Gray publishing her report into the scandal.

Conservative Member of Parliament, Paul Howell, who represents the Sedgefield constituency, took to the House of Commons yesterday (January 31) to tell his peers that even though “there has to be consequences” to the recent allegations, he also claimed that “things have to move on” before telling the opposition benches to “change the subject”.

Over the last 24 hours, a limited version of Sue Gray’s report has been made available to the public, with the document finding that “at least some of the gatherings” she investigated represent “a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time”.   

Read more: North East MPs react to Sue Gray's report and Boris Johnson

In her report on the partygate row, Sue Gray said the Downing Street Garden was “used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight” and “this was not appropriate”.

Following the publishing of the limited report, and the House of Commons debate that followed, which centred on the future leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, politicians of all parties have had their say on the allegations and the conclusion of the report.

This included a speech from Mr Howell yesterday, which saw him say: “The rules are clearly in question here. The rules themselves were put out by this Government have got this country to where it is.

Here's a video of Paul Howell MP speaking yesterday:

“We’ve got to remember that those rules did the right thing. So yes, there’s got to be consequences in No. 10 for any rules that have been broken but please remember, the right thing was done by the instigation of the rules in the first place.

“We need to move on and level up this country.”

Despite urging politicians and members of the public to “move on” from the allegations and partygate scandal, he was accused last night of “failing to read the room” by his constituents, who have claimed that the issue needs to be spoken about in an open forum.

Read more: MPs are urged to call for the resignation of Boris Johnson after Sue Gray partial report

Responding to a video of the Sedgefield in the Commons yesterday, one social media user too to the comments section to say: “Utterly ridiculous. The PM called the session. I'd rather they spent their time concentrating on other stuff too, but actions have led to the police investigating him for breaking his own rules,” while another added “Poorly spoken weak argument. No-one is disputing the effectiveness of sticking to the rules. The issue remains, those who set them broke them with blatant disregard.”

Meanwhile, others focused on the fact that Mr Howell’s claims about Levelling Up are a “myth” and the North East has “been left to rot”.

One social media user wrote: “I doubt very much the people of Sedgfield want to talk about anything else, levelling up is a myth. The biggest loser from tory rule are the northerners, thrown scraps to comply, while another chimed in with: “Well he won't want to go into in depth discussion about 'levelling up' because it hasn't happened.”

The Northern Echo: The Sedgefield representative was attacked on social media after his Parliament comments yesterday (January 31).The Sedgefield representative was attacked on social media after his Parliament comments yesterday (January 31).

Mr Howell wasn’t the only County Durham MP to have their say on the partygate scandal yesterday, after North West Durham MP, Richard Holden, said he was “appalled” at the revelations surrounding the governments and, like many, he was required to bury relatives over the pandemic.

Taking to the House of Commons yesterday afternoon, he urged the government to comply fully with the Metropolitan Police investigation into partygate and warning the Prime Minister to implement the recommendations set out in the Sue Gray report.

An investigation into several events that took place in Downing Street during the pandemic is currently underway, but an indication about when this will conclude hasn’t been set out as of yet.

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