Hilary Benn - Member of Parliament for Leeds Central
Many constituents have been contacting me about the Prime Minister’s conduct.
We are now in the extraordinary position that having repeatedly assured the House of Commons that all the rules were observed and that there were no parties in Downing Street, the Prime Minister has been found by the Metropolitan Police to have breached the Covid regulations that he himself put in place. He has now accepted that fact by paying the fine.
You are not alone in having contacted me to express your anger at what has happened. There are thousands of people up and down the country who were not able to hold the hands of their dying loved ones or attend funerals of others because they obeyed the rules at the very time that the prime minister was breaking them.
I believe that his position is untenable and he should resign. But the truth is that until a sufficient number of Conservative backbenchers reach the same view, the prime minister will continue to cling to office.
As the opposition parties we tabled a motion in the House of Commons to refer his conduct – and in particular the question of whether he deliberately misled Parliament – to the Committee on Privileges. The government tried to put this off by tabling an amendment, but on the day of the debate they withdrew it when it became clear that a large number of Conservative MPs would refuse to vote for it. So the matter will now be considered by the privileges committee once the Metropolitan police investigation is concluded, and of course there is still the possibility that further fines will be issued.
The reason why this all matters is that trust and integrity in politics is essential. As Keir Starmer said in the House of Commons, the reason why we are not allowed to call each other liars is because every single member of Parliament is obliged to tell the truth and never to mislead the House of Commons.
I hope that the prime minister will finally recognise that he has to go but I can assure you that we will continue to keep up the pressure on him because he has failed to uphold the traditions and responsibilities of the great office that he holds.
MP for Leeds Central