Northumberland MP backs beleaguered Boris

An MP who lost newborn twins during the first Covid lockdown has backed the PM to stay on, due to the war in Ukraine.

By James Robinson
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 10:39 am
The Prime Minister has the support of Northumberland MP Guy Opperman.

Guy Opperman, who represents Hexham, previously criticised Boris Johnson over partygate.

But now he is supporting the PM and says conflict in Europe means now is not the time for a change of leadership.

Mr Johnson, as well as chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM’s wife Carrie have all been fined for breaches of lockdown relating to parties held in Downing Street during the height of coronavirus restrictions.

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Previously, Mr Opperman criticised Mr Johnson for attending the gatherings, telling the BBC he had been unable to visit his wife and twin sons in hospital due to the restrictions.

His twin baby boys, Rafe and Teddy, tragically died not long afterwards. Speaking after the fines were issued, Mr Opperman again spoke about his loss and branded the behaviour unacceptable.

He said: “Like many of my constituents I spent the Covid lockdown shielding as I was immunocompromised, following a racing fall as a steeplechase jockey which ruptured my spleen.

“In June 2020 I could not attend the NHS hospital with my wife as she cared for our children. Sadly, the twins died and I was only allowed into hospital for the first time as the first child’s time was ending.

“This was on compassionate grounds. I say this because we have to accept that the findings against political leaders, and many others, for breach of lockdown rules does matter.

“Covid was an awful time in many ways, and many of us are still trying to come to terms with loss, bereavement, and sadness. It is patently clear that the police consider that the behaviour of many of the hundreds of people who worked in the Number 10 complex of buildings in Whitehall was unacceptable.

“We are lucky to enjoy an independent police force and rightly everyone appears to accept their decision, whatever the circumstances, and is paying the civil fines, and apologised unreservedly.

“The issue of consequences is something I discussed with the BBC back in January. I particularly wanted to see new support staff, and a greater focus, in Number 10 Downing Street. That has definitely happened.”

However, Mr Opperman, who has represented Hexham since 2010, stopped short of calling for the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to resign, citing the war in Ukraine as the primary reason to retain the current leadership.

He continued: “I know that Vladimir Putin would rejoice were we to indulge in a 3 – 4 month leadership election midway through the greatest threat to world peace since the Second World War.

“The Ukraine conflict, the problems of recovery post pandemic, the joint impact on global cost of living, the challenges all western countries and their citizens now face, and the stability of NATO far exceed the importance of individuals civil fixed penalty notices for £50. That applies whether you support, or do not support, the PM, the chancellor, or the dozens of civil servants who appear to have been similarly fined.

“I am clear that the priorities of the UK people and it’s representatives should be on supporting the Ukrainians in their fight, grappling with the need to support their displaced people, and tackling the consequences of the pandemic and this Ukrainian conflict and their joint impact on cost of living.

“The PM, the chancellor, and Defence Secretary have my full support to do that, and I will do what I can as a local constituency MP to assist in those endeavours.”

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson was contacted for comment on the fines, but declined to make a statement.