Tories in Enfield fail to condemn No10 lockdown parties

Local councillors dodge questions over whether prime minister should stand down over scandal, reports James Cracknell

Conservative councillor Joanne LabanConservative councillor Joanne Laban
Conservative group leader Joanne Laban has so far stayed silent on the Downing Street lockdown parties scandal, but has removed her ‘Back Boris’ profile image from social media

Conservative councillors in Enfield have failed to speak out against a series of parties at Downing Street during lockdown.

In the wake of revelations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself attended a party at a time when Covid-19 lockdown rules restricting social gatherings were in place, the Dispatch has reached out to a number of Tory councillors in Enfield, with none yet to publicly criticise him.

Of those contacted, only two Conservative councillors agreed to comment on the record about the ongoing row over parties at Number 10.

Terry Neville, a veteran councillor of 36 years and a former Conservative group leader in Enfield, said: “These parties are being investigated by a senior official whose report is apparently expected next week, so we should await the outcome.”

Stephanos Ioannou, who represents Southgate, said: “What I say makes no difference. It is being investigated. When people go to the ballot box, they will make their own decision.

“The prime minister apologised and people can accept it or reject it – that’s their personal choice.”

Joanne Laban, the Conservative group leader who harbours hopes of taking charge at Enfield Civic Centre after the upcoming council election in May, is known to have been a big supporter of Boris Johnson. Until recently, Cllr Laban’s profile image on social media was a photo of her standing next to Johnson with the words ‘Back Boris’ underneath, but this has now been changed.

Cllr Laban did not respond to requests for comment.

Amid a string of recent revelations about multiple social gatherings held during lockdown since the pandemic began two years ago, Downing Street today issued a formal apology to the Queen over a party that took place on the eve of her husband Prince Philip’s funeral last year.

The spokesperson for the prime minister said: “It’s deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning, and No 10 has apologised to the palace for that.”

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently investigating the parties that took place at Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 and is due to publish her findings by the end of this month.

The Conservatives in Enfield will need to overturn a significant Labour majority this May to take control of the council, but have been bolstered by local anger over council policies on low-traffic neighbourhoods, fortnightly waste collections, and building on the Green Belt. At the City Hall elections last year, Enfield was the only borough to back Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey having previously backed Sadiq Khan in 2016.