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Tories in the north of England appear to be giving Prime Minister Boris Johnson a less than enthusiastic backing with one police and crime commissioner admitting the public’s “faith had been shaken”.
The PA news agency attempted to contact a string of local politicians in the north where Mr Johnson made so many gains in the 2019 general election but many calls went unanswered and requests for responses were not forthcoming.
None of those who did comment said Mr Johnson should resign, but the responses were mixed after the Prime Minister apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” party at Downing Street during lockdown.
John Dwyer, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cheshire, said in a statement: “I know how difficult the past two years have been for the residents of Cheshire, who I am proud to represent.
“I am under no illusion about how they feel after seeing the same news reports as I have in recent days.
“I cannot condone any breaches of legislation that was specifically put in place to protect our health during a global pandemic.
“People’s faith in the system relies on trust, consent and good will. That faith has undoubtedly been shaken.”
Andrew Snowden, the Tory PCC for Lancashire, was not available, his office said they would pass on a press request for contact but did not have his mobile number.
Peter McCall, the Conservative PCC for Cumbria, told BBC North West Tonight: “I, I can only say that if, if that were, if I were in that position, and if, and these are all big ifs, but if it transpires that he knew what he was getting into, and that it was a party, it’s probably the dullest party going, I should imagine, but if that was the case, then it’s a really difficult position to defend when we and you know, in policing context, we’re having to enforce those self-same rules that were imposed on us by government, for very good reasons.
“So it would place him in a very, very difficult position.”
Ben Houchen, elected mayor for Tees Valley and seen by some as a rising figure in the Tory party, was not commenting on the issue, a member of his staff said.
Nadeem Ahmed, leader of Tory-run Pendle Council, said: “I think he was right first of all that he has apologised for the hurt that’s been caused to all the people who have lost loved ones and made huge sacrifices, that goes without saying.
“I think its really a decision for the Prime Minister to make, whether he feels he should be in that position any longer.
“I think in public office you live with your own conscience and you should be doing the right thing.
“When you think you have done something or said something untenable you know yourself whether you should be in that position.”
Councillor Heather Scott, Tory leader of Darlington Borough Council, was unavailable to speak to as she was busy with meetings, her office said, likewise with Phillippa Williamson, Conservative leader of Lancashire County Council.
However, Mr Johnson had the backing of Conservative Jackie Harris, a councillor in Bury, Greater Manchester and board member of the Conservative group of the Local Government Association.
Cllr Harris said: “Boris is running the country. I’m very fortunate to have had my three booster jabs and, I’m crossing my fingers now, I’m in good health, partly to do with a Conservative Government and I’m a Conservative.
“I think its better leaving it at that. Thank you for asking my opinion. Goodbye.”