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28th Jan, 2022

Redditch MP says she ‘understands public anger’ over PM’s lockdown booze party

Tristan Harris 13th Jan, 2022 Updated: 13th Jan, 2022

REDDITCH MP Rachel Maclean said this week she ‘completely understood’ people’s anger towards Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the ‘bring your own booze’ party but stopped short of criticising the PM.

Mr Johnson has faced calls to resign after apologising in the House of Commons on Wednesday when he admitted he attended the event.

But he added he felt it was ‘technically within the rules’ although he accepted he should have realised how it would look to the public.

It followed emails leaked to the press which showed senior Downing Street officials had invited more than 100 people to the party in the garden of Number 10 on May 20 in 2020 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’.

At the time restrictions only allowed people to meet with one other person outdoors.

In an uncomfortable interview on Politics Live on Wednesday, Ms Maclean was asked whether the gathering was legal and responded by saying ‘I can’t answer that question’.

Ms Maclean distanced herself from the event, said she did not attend and was in her constituency at the time but refused to say if the rules were broken or not.

The MP has also responded to a letter to her this week – shared with the Standard – from resident Ian Welch whose mum passed away in April 2020.

He added although she died of sepsis, the ‘Covid pandemic played a significant part on the treatment she received’.

“We were only allowed to visit her once in hospital when they stopped treatment and she died alone in the early hours of April 25 in an isolation room in a care home.

“We had a restricted funeral on May 12, we followed all the rules but it still hurts.

“Can you imagine how my family feels to learn that a week after her ‘funeral’ Johnson and his acolytes held a ‘bring your own bottle’ in Downing Street?

Ms Maclean said: “My heart breaks reading what Ian and his family went through.

“I understand Ian’s anger, and I’m certain I would feel exactly the same if this had happened to me.

“I would never dream of the breaking the rules that were put in place to save lives and protect our NHS, not just because I voted for these measures, but because abiding by the rules was the right thing to do.

“As your MP, I take my responsibilities incredibly seriously and I would not do anything to undermine important public health messaging.

“I’m angry that a gathering took place in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, and this is being investigated as we speak by Sue Gray.

“I’m glad the Prime Minister came to the House of Commons and apologised. He has taken full responsibility for what happened and rightly so.

“My constituents are understandably furious, to put it mildly. This anger is completely justified, and I’m under no illusions about how my constituents feel about what happened in Downing Street.”

She concluded by saying if Sue Gray’s investigation found the rules were broken, then there must be severe consequences for all those who attended this gathering, or any of the alleged gatherings which are currently being investigated.

“No one in this country is above the law.”

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