Around the beginning of 2022, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Reigate Crispin Blunt was interviewed on BBC Radio 4. During the interview he was asked to comment on the then allegations of partying, drinking and multiple breaches of Covid-19 regulations in and around the centre of government, including but not limited to No 10 downing street.
In his comment, Mr Blunt came out in defence of Boris Johnson, claiming that:
“…probably inside most homes and inside most businesses, and inside most places of public administration, people may not have kept absolutely to the rules…”
A politically diverse group of Borough residents, including local Labour members Mark Smith (Redhill West and Wray Common Candidate May 2022) and Jennifer Orchard (Reigate Labours Womens Officer and Executive Committe Member); Liberal Democrats such as John Vincent (Reigate Candidate May 2022), Green Party Councillor Johnathon Essex, and many non-political party affiliated people were discussing this in a Facebook Group after this interview emerged and decided that enough was enough.
To have an MP essentially criminalise their own constituents with such a public statement was inexcusable. These unsubstantiated assertions, lacking any basis of truth or evidence, should be considered a mark of shame upon Mr Blunt.
The group decided to use the Borough Councils Petition scheme to try to get a response from the Tory led council about their MP. The e-petition was accepted by the Council on 17 March 2022 which requested Reigate & Banstead Borough Council:
“to condemn the offensive, dismissive and potentially dangerous media statements recently made by Reigate MP Crispin Blunt about widespread public failure to follow Covid-19 restrictions and about their lack of importance”
Before the Council debate on this petition (which was held on 28th July 2022) Crispin Blunt MP released a statement to the council,
“This e-petition is regrettably misleading and its recommendations ignore and misrepresent the language carefully used by me to mean precisely what I said. That most households, businesses, and places of public administration will have found it almost impossible to have kept absolutely to the rules in no way contradicts the very commendable compliance of the British public overall with the purpose of the Covid-19 lockdown measures and other safety measures. It is also factually accurate to point out the enforcement measures were police issued fixed penalty notices, as are most speeding penalties. This political point scoring is a regrettable use of everyone’s time which could have been used towards something more constructive.”
At the Council meeting at the Town Hall in Reigate on 28th July 2022 sitting Councillors agreed with and supported the petition:
“…sadly, this isn’t the only example of Mr. Blunt making public statements, which has turned out to be utterly wrong…I am disappointed in the tone of his answer, which read to me as dismissive and arrogant.”
– Councillor Stevens, Conservative, Horley Central & South
“The residents of this borough deserve better in their public representation and in their national leadership. I note that the right honourable Crispin Blunt, MP has provided a statement to better explain his meaning, but it’s too late. I support the petitioner[s] in calling for the council to write to the right honourable Crisp Blunt, MP to condemn his statements, undermining trust in public health measures.”
-Councillor Chandler, Green, South Park & Woodhatch
The Council voted unanimously to condemn Crispin Blunt’s inaccurate statement and will be releasing a letter addressed to the MP in due course.