Labour’s candidate for the Birmingham Erdington by-election hit out at what she claimed are “lies this Government has been spouting” over so-called partygate.
A city councillor, a mother-of-five and previously an NHS nurse of 25 years, Paulette Hamilton said the Prime Minister “was having parties in No 10” as she delivered Covid jabs.
She was speaking after a tour of Erdington Skills Centre alongside shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden on Friday.
It came on the day the Metropolitan Police asked for the Whitehall inquiry in to allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, led by civil servant Sue Gray, to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by the force.
Mrs Hamilton said: “I’m a nurse and during Covid I actually went back in to nursing and was giving injections to people while (the) elected leader of this country, Mr Johnson, was having parties in No 10.
“People in this constituency were being fined. Literally, they had mental health issues, (they) wanted to meet in gardens, and they were fined for doing so.
“And Boris Johnson and his crew were having parties.”
She added: “As somebody that led with the Covid campaign, listening to the hurt and the needs of others, I feel offended Boris carried on in the way he has been carrying on.”
The Whitehall inquiry into partygate is yet to be published, while the Met’s investigation continues.
Mrs Hamilton is set to contest the seat after the death of previous incumbent Labour MP Jack Dromey on January 7.
If elected, she will be Birmingham’s first black MP.
Although a date has not been set for the by-election, it is widely expected to be held in early March.
Mr Dromey held the seat at the 2019 General Election with a majority of 3,601.
After meeting apprentices and trying her hand at rewiring a plug and brick-laying, Mrs Hamilton set out her priorities.
She said: “You know what will cut through here? That thing about the fact National Insurance will be rising by 1.25%, that thing about the 50% increase in our fuel costs, that thing about poverty and food poverty in the area, that thing about unemployment going up in the area.”
She said the “state of the high street” and the rising numbers of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) and so-called exempt accommodation – shared houses often putting up prison leavers, rough sleepers and migrants – were issues also coming up on doorsteps.
Mrs Hamilton said there was continuing concern about anti-social behaviour too.
She added: “As a local resident, I have experienced it. I live here. I know what people are feeling and, as their elected MP, my plan is to go to Government but also the local institutions and champion the needs of the people of the Erdington constituency.”
Ms Reeves said Mrs Hamilton would continue Mr Dromey’s work, saying she would “always put the people of Erdington first”.
Turning to the ongoing saga of the Gray report and when and in what form it will be published, the shadow chancellor said the Government was “in paralysis because of a crisis of their own making”.
She said: “The thing that is most frustrating about this scandal of lies and cover-up is it’s becoming a massive distraction for this Government.
“The big challenges we face as a country – whether it is tackling the cost of living crisis, with food and petrol and energy prices going through the roof; whether it is tackling the massive backlog in the NHS; or whether it’s creating the apprenticeships like we’re seeing in Erdington – the Government don’t have plans on any of these big issues because there’s paralysis at the heart of Government.”
She continued: “I want to see the Sue Gray report published in full, but most of all I want the Government to put its heart and soul into tackling the big challenges we face as a country.”