The Prime Minister admirably visited President Zelensky in Kyiv, the first Western leader to do so earlier this month.
While there he faced media questions on his conduct, and that of others in government, who had received Fixed Penalty Notices from the police in relation to events during the pandemic: rule makers had broken their own rules.
There are, of course, a great many issues facing the government, including the crisis in Ukraine, and rising costs of living. But I do not subscribe to the idea that this should offer carte blanche, or an excuse, to those who have been issued with FPNs.
I understand the anger many people have over the PM and Chancellor, along with other officials in Number 10, being issued with an FPN. I spent much of the covid pandemic shielding, so I know exactly what it is like not to have been able to see colleagues, friends and family as wanted.
Fortunately I did not suffer a family bereavement during this time, so can but imagine the additional anxiety for all concerned with the loss or serious illness of loved ones when access was restricted, and the anger this has provoked.
In issuing FPNs police did not indicate that the PM was seeing people he should not have – these were workplace colleagues he saw every day, in the very building and room in which he would normally see them – but that they undertook activities not strictly for the purpose of work and therefore in breach of the rules. I know there have been similar examples of others in work undertaking non-work activities and not being fined, but frankly, those in Number 10 should have held themselves to the strictest interpretation of the covid rules.
The Prime Minister has apologised, as he should have. Since these revelations came out, I have been clear that the relevant investigations by Sue Gray and the Metropolitan Police must be able to be conducted without pressure, and that the full details of the Gray report be made public as soon as possible. We still await the publication of that report.
The House of Commons also passed a motion on Thursday last week to allow a new Parliamentary investigation by the Privileges Committee into what the Prime Minister had said to the House about these events. I regard this as extremely serious, and shall follow the progress of that referral. I have not engaged in speculation about the PMs future, and will not do so now. But I, and many others in the Conservative parliamentary party, are determined to see probity restored to our political system.