The MP for Strangford was set to question Cabinet Minister Michael Ellis on reports of a lockdown breaking party on May 20 2020, but couldn’t finish his question as he began to cry in the Commons
DUP MP Jim Shannon broke down in tears in the Commons as a junior Tory minister deflected questions on Downing Street parties.
Mr Shannon struggled to contain his emotion as he reflected on the death of his mum-in-law who died alone.
The MP for Strangford told the Commons: “In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week.
“Including my mother-in-law, who died alone.”
He couldn’t finish his question as he was filled with sadness.
Paymaster General Michael Ellis – who was dispatched to face angry MPs in Boris Johnson’s place – told the Commons: “I’m very sorry for his loss.
“He’s asking me if the results of the investigation will be made public, and they will be.”
Mr Shannon’s emotion captures the mood of the public. Tory Peer Lord Evans told the Commons earlier that stories on the Partygate scandal, Mr Johnson’s Number 11 flat refurb and David Cameron’s Greensill scandal had cut through with the public.
Mr Shannon’s question was held as Labour’s Deputy leader Angela Rayner was granted an urgent question on Partygate in the Commons.
Ms Rayner said “there’s no need for an investigation into the simple central question today: did the Prime Minister attend the event in the Downing Street garden on the 20 May 2020?”
She added: “It won’t wash to blame this on a few junior civil servants, the Prime Minister sets the tone. If the Prime Minister was there surely he knew.”
Mr Ellis said today the Prime Minister is “going nowhere” and will not resign – as he described calls for him to stand down as “entirely hypothetical”.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked: “If the Prime Minister broke the law, he will resign, won’t he?”
Mr Ellis said: “It is an entirely hypothetical position.
“The Prime Minister is going nowhere. He seeks to draw me into making a supposition about the result of any inquiry.
“But the Prime Minister retains the confidence of the people of this country and he did so two years ago with the biggest majority in decades.”
Labour MP Afzal Khan said: “My beloved mum died of Covid in March 2020. She died alone in hospital while I sat in the car outside, trying to be as close to her as I could.
“Even burdened with our grief, my family obeyed the rules. Just three days after the Downing Street party, we marked a solemn Eid, the first without my lovely mum.
“When asked by Sky News about the parties, the Prime Minister did little but smirk and nod.
“He should be here today, but as he is not, can the minister confirm whether the Prime Minister will be apologising to bereaved families like mine for the anguish, pain and torment caused not just by hosting these parties, but for continuing to lie about it.”
The Prime Minister was quizzed about reports of a “BYOB” drinks party in the No 10 garden on May 20 2020 on a visit to a vaccination clinic on Monday.
Multiple reports, including public claims from ex-aide Dominic Cummings, suggested Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie personally attended the event
Asked if he and Carrie were there, a smiling Mr Johnson said: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”
AFP via Getty Images)
Pressed on whether he had been interviewed by Ms Gray, he laughed awkwardly and said: “All that is a subject for investigation by Sue Gray.”
Hours later, a bombshell email from the PM’s aide Martin Reynolds was published by ITV, showing plans for a socially distanced drinks party in the garden.