A CONSERVATIVE MP has said the Prime Minister's attendance at a Downing Street event during the first lockdown broke the spirit of the rules.

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne said she was "disappointed" to hear that Boris Johnson attended a drinks party in May 2020, while the country was under lockdown due to the pandemic.

However, she said she would wait for the publication of an investigation into such events to determine whether those who gathered in the garden of Number 10 broke the law.

She said: "My view is - at the very least - this breaks the spirit of the rules and the Prime Minister's apology in the House of Commons and the regret he expressed reflects that.

"No-one in this country is above the law and those who business it is to make the law are especially bound to respect it.

"Anyone who breaks them must face the consequences."

The prime minister told MPs yesterday that the Downing Street garden party was "technically within the rules", but that he should have realised how it would look to the public.

On the day in question, Ms Ansell said she had been working in Eastbourne on NHS calls.

She said: "I voted through the restrictions that bound the country into lockdown in that year.

"I feel the pain, anger and public dismay at these reports most keenly, and most particularly because I know the level of sacrifice many have made in Eastbourne and Willingdon."

She went on to say that the government has "overseen a world-beating vaccine programme and huge economic support that has saved jobs and businesses in Eastbourne and Willingdon during the pandemic".

Ms Ansell added: "We have record job vacancies, a country largely free of Covid restrictions and the fastest growing economy in the G7.

"These facts do not absolve anyone from any wrongdoing, but do they speak to a desire to help and protect and support the public during these challenging times."

Ms Ansell's comments come after Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle mocked Prime Minister Johnson, tweeting: "Boris Johnson finally has a legacy: making Matt Hancock look decent".

He went on to say: "Boris Johnson's defence seems to be that it's normal to email people having work meetings with him asking they 'bring their own booze'."

Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas also criticised the prime minister, and said that his defences "just don't wash".

She cited a school report of Boris Johnson's from 1982, which said "he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception".

"His Eton schoolmaster had the measure of him - he hasn't changed," Ms Lucas added.

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