Boris Johnson: Eastbourne councillor calls for Prime Minister’s resignation

An Eastbourne councillor has called for Boris Johnson to resign after the Prime Minister apologised for attending a garden drinks party at Downing Street.

Eastbourne councillor Josh Babarinde has subsequently called for Mr Johnson to resign.

In an open letter to Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, Mr Babarinde said, “On May 20, 2020, you may remember that I launched a campaign that donated video phones to care homes so that residents could still see their families throughout lockdown, albeit digitally.

Josh Babarinde SUS-210624-131538001

“This was because the rules they all abided by did not permit visits. Heartbreakingly, I have since learnt that some of those video calls were among the last conversations they would ever have with their families.

“Now we have found out that, on the very same day – while countless families across Eastbourne and Willingdon selflessly obeyed the rules during the height of lockdown – the Prime Minister attended a ‘bring your own booze’ party with dozens of others, hosted in his own garden at 10 Downing Street.

“A one-off mistake of this gravity would have been bad enough, but we all know this is not an isolated incident. This is yet another example of Boris Johnson and his colleagues creating one rule for them, and another for the rest of us.

“Today (January 12), the Prime Minister has apologised. It is clear that he has apologised not because he is sorry for what he has done, but because he is sorry that we all caught him red-handed, despite his weeks of deflection over Downing Street parties.

Boris Johnson with Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell. Picture from Mark Dimmock SUS-170106-161902001

“We do not need an investigation to tell us that your leader is in the wrong and needs to go – and nor should you. It’s plain to see.”

Mr Babarinde said he is appealing for Mrs Ansell to join him in calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

The councillor added, “Eastbourne and Willingdon expects you to put us people before your party. Eastbourne and Willingdon needs you to put your head above the parapet. Eastbourne and Willingdon deserves more than your deafening silence.

“If our town can’t rely on you to be a vocal and visible champion for honesty, decency and fairness in a case as grave and clear-cut as this, where and when exactly can we expect this from you?

“Our town deserves so much better than this, and I sincerely hope you know that. If you agree that Eastbourne and Willingdon deserves better, you can do the right thing and join my call for Boris Johnson’s resignation.”

In response to Mr Babarinde’s letter, Mrs Ansell said, “I was disappointed to hear the Prime Minister say he was at a Downing Street event during the first lockdown in May 2020.

“My view is - at the very least - this breaks the spirit of the rules and the PM’s apology in the House of Commons and the regret he expressed reflects that.

“Whether those gathered in the garden at No 10 broke the law will be determined by the investigation. I will wait on its publication.

“No-one in this country is above the law and those whose business it is to make the law are especially bound to respect it. Anyone who breaks them must face the consequences.

“I voted through the restrictions that bound the country into lockdown in that year. I feel the pain, anger and public dismay at these reports most keenly, and most particularly because I know the level of sacrifice many have made in Eastbourne and Willingdon.”

Mrs Ansell said she followed the rules and on the day in question was working in Eastbourne – specifically on NHS calls.

The MP added, “However, it is important to acknowledge the Government, led by the Prime Minister, has overseen a world-beating vaccine programme and huge economic support that has saved jobs and businesses in Eastbourne and Willingdon during the pandemic.

“We have record job vacancies, a country largely free of covid restrictions and the fastest growing economy in the G7.

“These facts do not absolve anyone from any wrongdoing, but do they speak to a desire to help and protect and support the public during these challenging times.

“My focus right now is to continue to support my constituents and to work with the borough council as it tries to navigate its way out of a major financial crisis largely of its own making.

“Next week, I am meeting the minister who will decide whether the council’s plan is enough. If not, bankruptcy could be the worst case scenario.”