Tory Peer Doesn't Exactly Help Boris Johnson's Case As He Takes Aim At The NHS Instead

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Boris Johnson and Tory peer Lord Marland during an appearance on BBC Newsnight (Photo: Reuters/BBC Newsnight)
Boris Johnson and Tory peer Lord Marland during an appearance on BBC Newsnight (Photo: Reuters/BBC Newsnight)

Tory peer Jonathan Marland didn’t exactly help ‘partygate’ by claiming he knows NHS workers who also had a drink after work during a difficult interview on Tuesday.

The Conservative, known for his friendship with Boris Johnson, was trying to defend the prime minister as calls for his resignation over the alleged lockdown parties in No.10 grow.

Trying to explain away these party claims, Marland said: “I think we also ought to think about those civil servants who have been locked in No.10 for months, working for this country, and every now and then, go out and have a drink – I think it’s wrong of course, but we can kind of understand.”

BBC Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark replied: “Hang on – NHS workers have been working overtime in hospitals!”

Marland jumped in: “Yes – I know NHS workers, by the way, who have had a drink after a day’s work!”

Going on to explain why he thinks the prime minister should not be booted out of office, Marland appeared to question the suitability of other leadership candidates.

He said: “The overall point is I think Conservative MPs have to be careful what they wish for, because the alternative is probably not thinkable in terms of Conservative MPs.”

Political pundits have pegged foreign secretary Liz Truss and chancellor Rishi Sunak as the top contenders for Johnson’s job if he gets kicked out.

Marland’s analysis of Johnson’s replacements comes as the polls for the entire Conservative Party plummet – a YouGov poll of Westminster voting intentions shows Labour now has a 10-point lead.

He continued: “I think people just have to stand back a bit – we’ve been through this incredibly national and international crisis. We’ve had conditions like we’ve never known in our lives.

“Do we want to pillory a man who has led us through this crisis and create turmoil within the country? I don’t think that is the option.”

Marland added: “I think we just need to give a little bit of credit to the prime minister. When I travel the world, everyone says, gosh, ‘Britain’s done an incredible job coming out of this crisis’, I think we need to give him a little bit of credit.”

However, this argument has been dismantled by people who are pointing out the pandemic was hardly a success.

There have been 174,233 deaths in the UK with Covid on the death certificate since the start of the pandemic, and 152,513 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Newsnight’s Wark asked the peer: “If the prime minister has broken the rules, is his position tenable? Can you really have a prime minister who says one thing and does another?”

But, like most of Johnson’s allies, Marland deferred to top civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into partygate to decide whether Johnson should remain in No.10.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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