Aylesbury MP backs Boris Johnson and insists Prime Minister has 'learned lessons'

Aylesbury MP Rob Butler has revealed he voted in favour of keeping Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in Tuesday’s (6 June) vote of confidence.

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 11:13 am

The Aylesbury MP was one of 211 Conservative politicians that voted in favour of keeping Mr Johnson as Prime Minister, 148 party members voted against him.

While Mr Butler says he shares ‘the anger of many constituents at what occurred in No 10’, ‘Partygate’ alone was not enough to override the ‘significant achievements’ he believes the Prime Minister has completed in office.

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Rob Butler with Boris Johnson on his last visit to Aylesbury

A vote of no confidence was launched after the number of MPs who wrote to Sir Graham Brady reached the 54-person threshold.

Many MPs lost faith in the 57-year-old after he became the first sitting Prime Minister to have committed a criminal act.

The Sue Gray Report investigated 18 different alleged parties suspected to have taken place at Downing Street whilst the country was in lockdown.

Rob Butler, photo from Parliament TV

These parties were taking place at a time when people in Aylesbury and beyond were unable to visit sick relatives or attend funerals due to Government-mandated restrictions.

In a wide-ranging statement released on his website yesterday, Mr Butler said: “As I have said from the time of the first reports of gatherings in Downing Street, I share the anger of many constituents at what occurred in No 10, when the rest of us were all doing everything we possibly could to comply with the rules.

"I have immense sympathy for those who lost loved ones during the pandemic, and who were unable to spend time with friends and relatives in their final days.

"I entirely understand their pain and anger.

“The Prime Minister has made mistakes in his time at No 10.

"It’s clear from Sue Gray’s final report that he should have had a firmer grip on the events that went on there when Covid restrictions were in force.

"He has acknowledged that, accepted and paid the Fixed Penalty Notice imposed by the Metropolitan Police.

"He has apologised, in Parliament and in public, on several occasions for what happened. He has repeated that he takes “full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch”.

"Having sat in the same room and listened to him on several occasions when he has been asked about these events, I believe that the Prime Minister is absolutely sincere in his apology, and importantly, that he has learnt lessons from the experience.”

Many politicians disagreed with Mr Butler’s assessment of Mr Johnson’s apology, Labour Leader Keir Starmer called it a ‘joke’.

Conservative MP for Forest of Dean Mark Harper accused the Prime Minister of asking his party to ‘defend the indefensible’.

The Prime Minister was also criticised for changing the ministerial code, in a move which was criticised as self-preservation by a former government ombudsman and rival politicians.

A spokesman for the Labour party in Aylesbury said of Mr Butler’s decision: “Pathetic. You voted to keep a mendacious liar in power.

"We changed Prime Ministers in WWII, and the cost of living crisis is caused by the economic idiocy of the Johnson/Sunak agenda.

“To further explain his divisive stance, Mr Butler went on to highlight ‘very significant achievements’ the party leader has achieved since taking over from Theresa May.”

The Aylesbury-based politician has faced further criticism for turning off replies on his tweets on Twitter.

Making it harder for constituents to engage with the politician.

One poster called the MP a ‘coward’ another said he was ‘spineless’.

Mr Butler said he was ‘absolutely certain’, Brexit would not have been achieved without the Prime Minister’s leadership.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has linked recent travel chaos across UK airports to Brexit due to additional immigration protocols.

Business experts have linked supply chain issues at retailers across the UK to post-Brexit trade problems.

The Aylesbury MP also mentioned Johnson’s General Election win in 2019, and his handling of the pandemic.

However, the MP didn’t mention the fact the Prime Minister missed five Cobra meetings discussing Covid, and the heavy criticism the Government faced for entering lockdown too late in March 2020.

Mr Butler also highlighted the Government response to the war in Ukraine imposing sanctions on Russia, and its response to the cost of living crisis.

He reiterated his support for the controversial immigration scheme implemented under Mr Johnson’s stewardship.

The bill which Butler helped pass was labelled as ‘shameful’ by international aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières.

Aylesbury’s MP returned to the Sue Gray Report supporting the Prime Minister’s cabinet changes made to create ‘clearer lines of leadership and accountability’.

Mr Butler concluded that: “The vote of Conservative MPs gives the Prime Minister a clear mandate to continue his job.”

An assessment which ignores that the previous Prime Minister resigned after retaining a greater percentage of her party’s support just three years ago.

Mr Butler did not respond to The Bucks Herald’s request to comment.