Boris Johnson is not a 'smooth machine' says LBC caller
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The Prime Minister is currently trying to stave off a rebellion that threatens to sink his premiership as dozens of Conservative MPs reportedly consider whether to submit letters of no confidence. Speaking after being slammed over his conduct in the House of Commons today, Defence Minister James Heappey admitted that Mr Johnson’s explanation for attending a Downing Street gathering “sounds absurd” but only to those who “don’t see the way the Prime Minister’s day is put together.”
Mr Heappey – who worked as the Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary for six months – added: “People are furious – my inbox is glowing white hot.”
However he refused to be drawn on the issue further until an independent report on alleged lockdown-breaking parties held at Number 10 is published by top civil servant Sue Gray.
Appearing on Sky News, he added: “I’m choosing to give the man who I have worked with closely the benefit of the doubt.
“But for millions who don’t want to, I ask them to wait for the Sue Gray report.”
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The junior minister also refused to answer “hypothetical” questions about whether the Prime Minister should resign if he is found to have breached the Covid regulations.
He said it was “perfectly reasonable” to wait for the inquiry to conclude.
And while refusing to condemn his boss, Mr Heappey was quick to defend Mr Johnson’s actions.
Explaining how Downing Street works, he said he could “understand” the claims because Mr Johnson does not have control over his own diary.
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He added: “My take as someone who has worked in Downing Street is that the Prime Minister doesn’t really own his own diary, and it really is for his team to have had his back.
“I can perfectly imagine from having worked closely with him and in Number 10 exactly how this happened.
“He will have been grabbed from an office at the end of a busy day of very significant decisions around the pandemic and everything else that was going on in the world, and will have been launched into an event that he himself said at the despatch box in hindsight he should have shut down immediately.
“It is the most extraordinary job – you can bounce from a National Security Council meeting straight into a meeting with fellow ministers on a domestic policy issue, straight into a phone call with a foreign leader.
“And then someone comes and grabs you from your office and takes you down to the garden and in the 30 seconds that takes to go down the stairs you get a pre-brief on what is going on.”
He spoke shortly after a Red Wall MP elected as part of Mr Johnson’s 2019 landslide victory defected to Labour.
Christian Wakeford, the member of Bury South, joined Sir Keir Starmer’s party, telling Mr Johnson “you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis also stood up in the Commons and said: “In the name of God, go.”
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