Boris Johnson: Blackpool residents share anger after PM admits attending Downing Street garden party during lockdown
Sky News has spoken to people in Blackpool, Lancashire, after the prime minister apologised in parliament for attending a Downing Street garden party during lockdown in May 2020.
Among the only printable replies we had to the question “What do you think about Boris Johnson right now?” were the following:
“I think he’s a prat.”
“You couldn’t publish what I really think of him.”
“He doesn’t know his a*** from his elbow and I think he should go.”
How would I describe today, canvassing opinion of the prime minister?
It’s tricky but I’d go for “interesting” and “full of expletives” (not mine).
Westminster is 250 miles away from Blackpool but amidst this seaside town’s illumination and arcades there is genuine resentment over what happened.
“My grandma died during the first lockdown and I had to watch her funeral via a Facebook Live because of the restrictions of numbers,” Samantha Garner-Jones told me, “and I think it’s just horrible what he’s done.”
“When he got voted in, people thought he was a bit funny, a bit of joker but I think that opinion has changed now.”
In 2019, the constituency of Blackpool South became a blue brick in the so-called Red Wall.
After more than two decades with a Labour MP, the area voted in Scott Benton of the Conservative Party.
It was victories in seats like this across the north of England that contributed to the Tory party’s landslide majority.
But what do the people who voted Conservative for the very first time in 2019, think now?
“Some of the decisions that he’s made have been alright,” Paul Cunliffe told Sky News. “He’s had to make snap decisions at a time when things have been really difficult.”
“But after this I am sorry that I voted for him and I probably wouldn’t again.”
For many people we spoke to, it came down to a matter of trust.
We met Aadil Ahmed in Blackpool’s town centre who told us he felt the investigation into the Downing Street parties, with their links to the prime minister, has tarnished the leader’s reputation.
“If you lose trust, then you lose the people, don’t you?” Mr Ahmed said, “and that means you lose elections”.
During our day in Blackpool we tried to speak to Conservative Party councillors, activists and the current MP but they declined.
But David Owen is the former mayor and now a Labour councillor, who said what’s happening with the Tory party could a wider impact amongst voters who, he said, “can get so brassed by the people at the top behaving so abominably that all politicians get tarred with that same brush”.
But he added that local conservative councillors are under immense pressure right now.
“We’ve got local elections in May of this year and Blackpool has them 12 months later, and you get the impression that all of a sudden from being cock of the walk, Conservatives in the north of England are now very much scared, they thought it was going to be a walkover.”
However, before all that is the Conservative Party Spring Forum, to be held in Blackpool for the very first time.
But to welcome might not be quite what the party was hoping for.
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