RIshi Sunak challenged over partygate scandal fine by man whose mum died in Covid pandemic

RIshi Sunak challenged over partygate scandal fine by man whose mum died in Covid pandemic

RIshi Sunak was directly challenged over his partygate scandal fine by a man whose mum died during the Covid pandemic.

The Prime Minister faced questions over “trust” during a question and answer session at a factory in Buckinghamshire.

His first question came from a man who said: “My mum died in 2020, the height of the pandemic, my brothers could not be with us in hospital, I couldn’t be there.

“You will probably remember that was the month where all the parties were going on in Downing Street.

“I think the month after you attended a gathering where you got a fixed penalty notice.”

His voice quaking, he added: “My question, how can anyone trust you or the party after things like this?”

The Prime Minister responded: “I’m really sorry that you lost mum, particularly in those circumstances because it wasn’t easy for so many people during the pandemic, the impact it had on everyone’s lives.

“I can’t imagine what it must have been for you not to be able to be with her at that time. It’s really tough.”

He added: “And I’m sorry for what was going on in Downing Street.

“For my part, I apologised, I showed up to a meeting earlier, I was working on things to help you and your business and many other families like that.”

Mr Sunak was fined for being at a surprise birthday party, ahead of a meeting, in Downing Street for Boris Johnson, who was also given a fixed penalty notice.

At the time, the then Chancellor said: "I understand that for figures in public office, the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence.

"I respect the decision that has been made and have paid the fine."

At the factory on Thursday, he then turned the conversation to the furlough scheme, which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“In fact it was probably at the same period of time that you got to know me as Chancellor,” he explained.

“Most of you did not know who I was before then.

“I popped up on your TV screens, announced the furlough scheme, because I knew that we were going to have to work together to get through that and it was going to be a difficult time.

“Hopefully, some of you here benefited from some of the support we put in place.”

He stressed: “So when you ask can you trust me, we have had some really big shocks over the past few years, with the pandemic and then what happened with energy bills and when those things happened I did everything I could to protect you and your families and help get the country through it, whether it was furlough, whether it was the considerable support with energy bills, because that is who I am as a person.

“I’m in this to help you, help your family and particularly when our country goes through tough times I will always be there to support you.”

Mr Sunak has toured a cherry picker manufacturer on Thursday's first campaign visit.

He was shown Niftylift's factory floor during the visit near Milton Keynes.

He met a group of workers getting ready to bolt wheels onto a mobile elevating work platform vehicle.

Mr Sunak could be heard to remark the job was the factory's equivalent of a Formula 1 pit stop.

He was introduced at the Q&A session by Johnny Luk, the Conservative candidate for Milton Keynes Central, and Ben Everitt, candidate for Milton Keynes North.

Mr Everitt described the Prime Minister as "our tech bro from another mo".

Mr Sunak opened his speech at the Q&A with a claim about Labour building over Milton Keynes' green spaces.