Tories were conspicuous by their absence during Partygate vote, says Andrew Marr

21 April 2022, 18:18

Andrew Marr reflects on 'strange absence' of Tory MPs

By Will Taylor

Andrew Marr said the Tories were conspicuous by their absence in Parliament today, as Boris Johnson faced a crucial vote on a Partygate inquiry.

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LBC's presenter said at the top of Tonight with Andrew Marr that it shows the Prime Minister is on "shaky ground" with his own MPs.

The House of Commons approved an inquiry into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament over Partygate.

Andrew said the saga will cause more "embarrassment" for the party ahead of the local elections in May.

"There’s a Sherlock Holmes story, Silver Blaze, which hangs on the curious incident of the dog that didn't bark in the night," Andrew said.

"Sometimes it's the lack, it's the absence, which tells you all you need to know.

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"Today it was the strange absence of Conservative MPs on the Commons benches - the opposition benches were packed.

"But all day, Tory MPs have been heading by any means they could find away from Westminster, on almost every excuse they could think up.

"By pony trap, hot air balloon, penny farthing and skateboard, off they went, back to their constituencies. Some said they were ill, others that they had urgent business they’d forgotten about.

"So why did they flee? Because many of them didn't want to back Boris Johnson in a vote over Partygate.

"His government had put down a motion to delay an embarrassing parliamentary inquiry into law breaking and whether or not the Prime Minister lied.

"But late last night Government whips seemed to panic, as they realised too many of their own people might not be onside.

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"So they tore up their own motion and they chucked in the bin - in parliamentary terms, that means surrendering the ground to Labour

"And that means this evening, the opposition got its way and the MPs' inquiry will go ahead.

"What does that all mean and why should you care? Hang around. What this tells us is that the Prime Minister is still on shaky ground with his own MPs.

"How much does the inquiry itself actually matter? Well, it will be able to ask for photographs of parties and details about them that have not yet been shared with the public.

"At the very least it's going to string out the story of the illegal parties and lies, and cause further embarrassment around the time of the local elections.

"Liar, by the way, does now seem, as of this afternoon, to be a word allowed in the Commons.

"All in all perhaps not the most glorious day for Her Majesty's Conservative Party.

"I'm going to get an assessment of it that from David Lidington, who was in effect deputy prime minister under Theresa May and who joins us from the Chilterns where he's probably having to duck to avoid Tory MPs hurtling past him."