Could Peter Bone’s defence of Boris Johnson damage his own political reputation?
We ask Wellingborough residents what they think of Peter Bone’s unwavering allegiance to the PM
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By Sarah Ward and Natalie Bloomer
Almost every TV channel viewers have switched to over the past two weeks has shown Wellingborough MP Peter Bone defending Boris Johnson’s party activities during lockdown.
From BBC Newsnight to Channel 4 News, Good Morning Britain, GB News to LBC and beyond, Brexiteer Bone has been fighting the under-fire PM’s corner.
He’s told viewers that his constituents don’t care about the partying and it’s only the media who are obsessed, denied that Johnson’s mid lockdown birthday bash last June was even a party and repeatedly said people don’t care about a piece of cake.
We understand that recent canvassing by local Conservatives has been taking place in Oundle (not part of Bone’s constituency) ahead of a council by election but as the MP has repeatedly mentioned Wellingborough specifically during his media appearances we tried to verify this. We called Bone personally - he didn’t answer, his office - they said they would ask him and then let us know but didn’t and the Wellingborough Conservative Association - they said they wouldn’t be aware if local Tories were canvassing in Wellingborough.
So how do Wellingborough residents feel about being put forward by Bone as seemingly standing apart from the rest of the country and not giving a monkeys about whether the PM broke the lockdown laws he imposed?
We went out into the streets of Wellingborough to find out:
“Peter Bone has never knocked on my door or asked me for my opinion, that’s all I can say on the matter.”
“He doesn’t represent my views at all. I think it’s disgraceful what’s been happening in No 10. I lost my brother-in-law to Covid, it’s terrible that this has been happening while others stuck to the rules. What I think about Peter Bone defending them is not repeatable.”
“I did care [about the alleged parties] at first but I’m a bit tired of hearing about it now. If Peter Bone has actually spoken to people in the town and they’ve said they don’t care that’s fine but if he hasn’t he shouldn’t be saying it.”
Chloe, 24 and Bobbi, 42
“My mum missed the first year of my daughter’s life because of Covid rules so I definitely care if Boris and them in government weren’t following the same rules. Peter Bone doesn't speak for people here, he’s our MP but where is he? Who is he? He doesn’t speak for us.”
“I am a Conservative voter but they can’t put these laws and rules in place and then not stick to them. Peter Bone is wrong that his constituents don’t care, perhaps he should care more about it himself.”
Sarah and Jonny
“I think he’s right. Nobody stuck to the rules so why should they.”
Chris and Arthur from the reptile shop two doors down from Peter Bone’s office
“He’s had the office next door for over a year but he’s never once spoken to us, he walks past us outside the shop and just ignores us. I think that tells you what he thinks of his constituents. I don’t think he has a good grasp on what people here think at all. One customer came in the other day and said ‘there’s more snakes next door than in your shop’.”
“I don’t agree with what’s been going on, I really don’t understand why anyone would vote for Peter Bone in the first place but certainly not after how he’s been defending them.”
“Well I think Peter Bone has always been a big Boris supporter so he is bias. I care about what happened, I don’t agree with him.”
A twitter storm
People from across the country have been having their say on Bone’s defence of Boris Johnson. Former Conservative colleague Anna Soubry accused him of gaslighting the nation:
Residents have also had their say
Jess Phillips MP @jessphillipsKeep doing it, especially Peter Bones constituents because he keeps telling the world you don't care about this https://t.co/MKvzjNukqG
A step up the ladder?
Despite being Wellingborough’s MP for 16 years, Peter Bone (unlike his protege Tory MP Tom Pursglove) has not risen up the political ladder into the ministerial ranks. Outspoken and often against the party line, he came to the forefront of politics in 2018 when his long hoped for European Union exit was achieved.
Always a Boris backer, he has now stayed faithful when many other colleagues have stepped back and kept quiet.
With a rumoured visit to number 10 last week (as reported by the i newspaper) if Boris does the seemingly impossible and stays on as PM could there be a reward for him for all those high profile media interviews?
Nothing is certain and when the eagerly awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street parties during lockdown is published, the political fallout could go for or against Johnson (and his supporters).
We contacted Peter Bone for a response and are awaiting his reply.