Sun, 21 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Nadhim Zahawi Insists Boris Johnson's Job Is Safe Despite "Anger And Hurt" Over Parties

Nadhim Zahawi has defended the Prime Minister's position

2 min read

The Education Secretary has said the public's anger over a string of allegations of lockdown parties in Downing Street was "not lost on me or my family", but calls for patience over an investigation into the incidents.

Nadhim Zahawi defended the Prime Minister's claims that he believed the Downing Street party he attended in May 2020 was a "work event".

Zahawi, who lost an uncle to Covid and was unable to attend his funeral, said he believed Johnson when he claimed he wished he could "turn back the clock" and tell his staff to leave the Downing Street garden.

Conservative MPs have faced growing anger from constituents over the weekend after they returned home following the latest revelations about new No10 parties. Some MPs reported having received hundreds of angry emails and letters, while at least two have seen their offices vandalised.

Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi said he "understood" the hurt felt by the public but said he believed Johnson's claims about the events.

"It is not true the Prime Minister knew about this, he implicity thought this was a work event... I think it is only right we wait for that investigation," he said.

"I completely understand how people feel angry about this. The anger and level of hurt is not lost on me or on my family and I absolutely share that.

He added: "You don't condemn a man without a thorough investigation."

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Zahawi also claimed he believed the Prime Minister's job was safe, saying that he had proven he could get the "big decisions" right. "We are human and we make mistakes," he said.

But growing anger among Tory backbenchers has continued to rise following recent revelations about the culture within No10 during the lockdowns, with Tim Loughton becoming the sixth MP to publicly call for Johnson's resignation.

In a statement over the weekend, the Tory MP said he had "regretfully" concluded that Johnson's position was "untenable". 

"His resignation is the only way to bring this whole unfortunate episode to an end and I am working with colleagues to impress that view on Number 10," he said.

"It has strained belief that when most people were avoiding social events during the height of lockdown, that ill-advised events that we now know took place in or around Downing Street could in any way be construed as falling within the rules.

"I have made it clear all along that if people have broken the law then they need to be held accountable to the law and punished appropriately, wherever it happened and whatever their status."

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