‘The Prime Minister has let my constituents down’ – those are the damning words of Conservative MP Caroline Nokes who spoke during a special Partygate investigation conducted by BBC’s Panorama.

Ms Nokes featured heavily in the hour-long episode which aired on Tuesday evening – the night before Sue Gray’s long-anticipated report was made public.

The MP for Romsey and Southampton North, which covers areas of Test Valley including Barton Stacey, was questioned by Laura Kuenssberg on whether she backed her party leader, who has once again been brought into focus after fresh pictures of Mr Johnson raising a glass at one of a series of illegitimate lockdown bashes emerged over the past few days.

Speaking on the programme, she said: “I wrote my letter of no confidence a long time ago – I feel the Prime Minister has let down my constituents and I have been 100 per cent consistent with that view.

“When people write to you, they tell you their background. They tell you things like, ‘I have always been a Conservative supporter and I’ve voted Conservative in every election since I was 18 years old’. But they’re now saying they can’t do so again because they feel the Prime Minister has let them down.”

Ms Nokes said the controversy has weakened the government’s power to pass through legislation.

“This is a government which has a massive commons majority – it ought to be able to put forward a legislative programme which it has 100 per cent confidence will get through unamended,” she said.

“What we are seeing at the moment is seeds of doubt having been sewn, MPs feeling that they have been led up the garden path. The direction constantly changes, and so you end up in something which looks a bit confused. It’s a mess.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross was one of many politicians who scaled back their criticisms of Mr Johnson after the news of war in Ukraine broke. Many members of the Tory party took the view a change of leadership would only serve to destabilise the UK and strengthen Putin’s grip in the East.

Asked whether that was a view she shared, Ms Nokes said: “I really can understand the argument that maybe now is not the right time to go into a leadership battle. There are other colleagues who make the point, ‘well, who would replace the Prime Minister’, and that’s a good question. Who knows who would replace him? But my view is there is never a good time to topple a Prime Minister – that’s the stark reality.”

Ms Nokes described the mood in the party as ‘pretty grim’, adding there is a lot of concern the Partygate saga has not gone away.

That mood will undoubtedly be further dampened by the arrival of Sue Gray’s 14,000-word report – which contains 26 references to alcohol, 20 mentions of wine, 12 of food and eight of cheese, some of which are contained in reproductions of emails and messages.

Of the 37 pages, 28 give a detailed account of 12 events, running from one in the garden of 10 Downing Street on May 15, 2020, to two gatherings inside 10 Downing Street on April 16, 2021.

The conclusion runs to just over 650 words, and it is here that Sue Gray makes her only mention in the report of “failures”, with reference to her initial findings in January:

“I have already commented in my update on what I found to be failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office.”

The conclusion is also where she makes her only reference in the report of things that “should not” have happened:

“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen.”

There are 18 references in the report to the police, with the final mention appearing in the conclusion:

“It is also clear, from the outcome of the police investigation, that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.”

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.