Boris Johnson warned by aide not to meet senior Tory MP who fumed about lockdown alone
PUBLISHED: 09:20 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:23 14 May 2020
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The prime minister has been warned by an aide not to meet alone a senior Tory backbencher who claimed the public had been ‘too willing’ to go into lockdown.
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The Times reports that in a leaked memo entitled “Meeting with Sir Graham Brady – Wednesday 13th May 2020”, Boris Johnson is advised against meeting the chair of the influential 1922 committee alone.
He is also discouraged from agreeing to meet more regularly with the senior Tory MP.
It reads: “Following an exchange between you and Graham, he has asked for a catch-up. This is the first since December. It is important that at least the chief [whip] stays in the room – he will, as he has previously, seek to ensure that it is just the two of you.
“Whilst he will seek more regular meetings (let me handle this and don’t agree to anything), he will almost certainly raise the Covid response and the lockdown.”
The memo goes on to reference the Tory MP’s recent comments in the House of Commons, and criticisms about the government’s handling of the pandemic.
But rather than claim the government had moved too slowly, he has called for ministers to look at “removing restrictions and removing the arbitrary rules and limitations on freedom as quickly as possible”.
It notes that he said: “The public have been willing to assist. If anything, in some instances it may be that the public have been a little bit too willing to stay at home.
“I am sure I am not the only member who has heard from employers who are struggling to fulfil orders because it is difficult to get employees back from furlough.
“We all know how critical it is that they ought to be able to get their workers back so that we make sure that the jobs remain when the furlough period ends.”
It is signed off “Enjoy, BG”, the initials of the prime minister’s political secretary Ben Gascoigne.
The request for a meeting, along with the criticisms from the 1922 committee chair, is an indication of discontent with some Tories on the backbenches.
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