Nadhim Zahawi’s continued defence of Boris Johnson risks his own political future
NADHIM Zahawi’s continued defence of Boris Johnson is risking his own political future, according to a Conservative Party insider and disgruntled voters.
The Stratford MP was under fire this week as the controversy over the ‘partygate’ scandal continued to plague Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Mr Zahawi has been very visible in the media backing up the PM’s claim that he mistook the bring-your-own-bottle party in the garden of Downing Street on 20th May 2020 for a “work event”. But the move looks to be costing Mr Zahawi support in his constituency.
Herald readers have shared numerous stories about the emotional hardships they faced while obeying the strict Covid rules of early 2020.
Writing to the Herald this week, reader Carrie Beckwith said: “I’m disgusted by this latest news of yet another party at Downing Street. But worse still this one was on 20th May, when us plebs were conforming to the first and strictest of lockdowns. With people unable to visit dying relatives or attend funerals.”
While Jeremy Paris shared the sad story of his grandmother dying alone in a hospice while government parties were taking place. He wrote: “I cannot understand how Nadhim Zahawi and his colleagues can defend this appalling behaviour. It is truly saddening.”
The Herald put a series of questions to Mr Zahawi about the scandal. In a statement, the education secretary said: “I have a deep sympathy with people who lost loved ones during lockdown and were unable to be with them in their final moments. Sadly, I also lost my beloved uncle.
“I understand the anger that is being experienced by people across the country in light of these allegations.
“Given the seriousness and sensitivity of this issue, it is right that an independent investigation takes place to ascertain exactly what went on and to determine potential disciplinary action.”
Asked if he attended any parties, he confirmed: “I attended no such gatherings.”
However, Nadhim’s strategy of supporting the embattled PM is being strongly felt within the Stratford Conservative Association, according to a local Tory party member who asked not to be named.
They said: “As a big supporter of Boris, I am genuinely shocked by the revelations which clearly betray a mindset of ‘one rule for them and one for us’ in Downing Street. I am not in the slightest bit surprised by the public outrage, which is definitely cutting through with voters locally and, speaking to friends elsewhere, up and down the country too. I know I am not the only association member in Stratford who feels this way.”
They added: “I think Nadhim’s unwavering vocal support for Boris over this has cost him a lot of respect both within the association and the wider community. That was unnecessary and is disappointing.
“We all know that he was dropped into Stratford as an A-list candidate and there is a grudging acceptance that he is a career politician first and a local politician second. While we all understand the principle of collective responsibility within government, many ministers have limited their public support for Boris but Nadhim has gone much further.
“There is a definitely a sense that this shows a disregard for the views of many of his constituents (and indeed association members). Not for the first time either.”
The resignation of the PM according to the source.
They continued: “Politically, I struggle to see a way for Boris to regain the trust of the public after this and my personal view now is that if he doesn’t resign, he will condemn the Conservatives to big losses in the local elections in May and ultimately defeat in the next general election. This isn’t something people are going to just move on and forget about.”
For more on this story, including the reaction of the Stratford District Council Conservative cabinet, see this week’s Herald, currently on sale.