Tory backbencher asks if Boris Johnson ‘thinks I’m a fool’ for following Covid rules at grandmother’s funeral

‘I didn’t hug my siblings, I didn’t hug my parents, I gave the eulogy and then afterwards I didn’t even go to her house for a cup of tea’

‘Am I a fool?’: Tory MP blasts PM after following Covid rules at grandmother's funeral

A Conservative backbencher asked the prime minister if he thought him a “fool” after recounting how he closely adhered to the government’s Covid restrictions during his grandmother’s lockdown funeral.

Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, was among several Tory parliamentarians who criticised the conduct within No 10 following the publication of Sue Gray’s partial report into a number of lockdown parties held in the heart of government.

The civil servant’s report concluded “a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did.”

Ms Gray added there is “significant learning” to be drawn from her findings, and that government need not wait its reckoning from the Met Police, after the force demanded that certain details be excluded from the report.

Mr Bell told the Commons: “It seems a lot of people attended events in May 2020 - the one I recall attending was my grandmother’s funeral.

“She was a wonderful woman. As well as a love for her family she served her community as a councillor and she served Dartford Conservative Association loyally for many years.

He added: “I drove for three hours from Staffordshire to Kent, there were only 10 at the funeral, many people who loved her had to watch online.

“I didn’t hug my siblings, I didn’t hug my parents, I gave the eulogy and then afterwards I didn’t even go to her house for a cup of tea. I drove back three hours from Kent to Staffordshire.

“Does the prime minister think I’m a fool?”

Mr Johnson replied: “No, and I want to thank (Mr Bell) and I want to say how deeply I sympathise with him and his family for their loss, and all I can say is again that I’m very, very sorry for misjudgments that may have been made by me or anybody else in No 10 and the Cabinet Office.”

Meanwhile, a Conservative MP announced on Monday evening she had quit her government job, citing “deep disappointment” with Boris Johnson’s handling of the Partygate scandal.

Guildford MP Angela Richardson said she had stood down as parliamentary private secretary to Michael Gove in order to be able to “hold the government to account as a critical friend”.

In a statement released this evening, she said: “Sue Gray’s report published today clearly states that there were failings at No 10 Downing Street that let us all down. The prime minister again apologised for those.

“I share the deep disappointment that it has taken so long to get to this stage when there could have been an early acknowledgement and apology.”

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