Tory chair says public isn’t bothered over PM’s refusal to apologise for sleaze

'I think what people want, they accept what we said which is we made mistakes, they want this government actually to be focusing on the job at hand'

Oliver Dowden

Tory chair Oliver Dowden is of the view that the public doesn’t mind prime minister Boris Johnson refusing to say ‘sorry’ over the Tory sleaze and corruption scandal and that they would rather he ‘focus on the job in hand’.

Dowden was asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley why the prime minister hadn’t apologised for the sleaze scandal.

He replied: “We made some mistakes, we would’ve done things differently and we’ve said we regret that.”

Pushed once more on why Boris Johnson can’t bring himself to apologise, Dowden replied: “You begin to argue about semantics on this. I think the prime minister has said that he regrets it, he’s said that mistakes were made but really the prime minister’s focus is actually, and look at what he’s been doing over the weekend with the climate change summit the huge progress we’ve made there, further announcements today on the booster programme, I think what people want, they accept what we said which is we made mistakes, they want this government actually to be focusing on the job at hand and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The Tory corruption row has seen Owen Paterson quit as an MP after committing an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules. Paterson was found to have “repeatedly” used his position as an MP to benefit two firms who paid him as a consultant following an investigation by parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone. The government’s attempt to let him off the hook by scrapping the independent watchdog then backfired.

It’s also been revealed since that Geoffrey Cox earned more than £800,000 while working for law firm Withers, which is representing the British Virgin Islands government in a corruption case brought by the UK government. Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who is a keen amateur pilot, has also been accused of using tax payers’ cash to support airfields challenging planning developments.

According to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer, Labour has recorded its first poll lead over the Conservatives for almost a year in the wake of the row over Tory sleaze and corruption.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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