IT was instructive that at the end of a torrid week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson should choose to pitch up in the seats that he won in the Tees Valley so as to be among friends at this difficult time.

At the same time, one of the most junior members of his Government was resigning because of the “toxic culture” in No 10 laid bare by the Gray report.

It shows how the country has flipped. The resigning Paul Holmes represents Eastleigh on the south coast of Hampshire, a seat that has historically wavered between the Conservatives and the LibDems. He’s resigned to distance himself from the Prime Minister, yet in the North East, Tory MPs still welcome Mr Johnson to their high streets – and he gets a pretty warm reception.

That’s not to say the people here are unworried about partygate. Many have been appalled by it. But when they made the momentous decision to vote for Mr Johnson in 2019, they knew he was a bit of a one yet they liked his pragmatic promises to get Brexit done and level up. Partygate has proved that he is most definitely a bit of a one, but the pragmatic splashing the cash to ease the cost-of-living crisis is still welcomed.

But not in the south, where it is seen as “red meat to socialists” and has had “true blue Tories juddering”.

At the local elections three weeks ago, the Tories made very slight gains in the North East, suggesting that the newly blue areas have not yet decided they made a big mistake in 2019 – even if Mr Johnson’s personal behaviour is pushing them to the edge.