Purley voters verdict on partygate and Philp: ‘outrageous’ and ‘disgusting’

Left Pic: Richard Townshend / Right Pic: Ben Shread

Croydon South MP, Chris Philp, the only Conservative MP in the Eastlondonlines areas, has been one of the few Boris Johnson supporters defending him over the Downing Street party scandals. Eastlondonlines went out onto the streets of Croydon South to ask voters whether they back both their MP and the Prime Minister. Sophie Donne reports.

In the leafy streets of defiantly suburban Purley, the main town centre of the Croydon South constituency there was little support to be found for Boris Johnson, as the Prime Minister consistently defends his actions over ‘Partygate’ or for their local Tory MP, Chris Philp, who has been one of those prepared to go on the airwaves to back him.

Philp, raised in Kent and a former editor of the Cherwell student newspaper at Oxford, was elected to Parliament in 2015, held the seat in 2019 with a comfortable 12,000 majority; he has held several junior ministerial posts and is currently Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In interviews, Philp has taken the line of ‘wait and see’ with regard to the Sue Gray report on Number 10 partying but on Radio 4’s Any Questions programme last week he was openly ridiculed by members of the audience when host Chris Mason asked him if Johnson was ‘a beacon of moral integrity’.

Purley town centre Pic: Diamond Geezer

So, do the voters in Philps constituency take the same view?

Andy Scott, 53, a musician from Purley, said: “The Tory party take the British people for granted and it’s absolutely outrageous that they would have parties whilst we’re in the midst of a lockdown.” Despite his disappointment, Scott said he is not surprised by the Conservative party’s actions.

Andy Scott Pic: Sophie Donne

“The Tory party doesn’t have any morality and I don’t think people vote for the Tory party because of moral principles.”

In response to his local MP’s comments in support of Johnson, Scott said they made him “depressed”.

He said: “I would imagine Philp is concerned about his position. He is probably protecting himself, like other conservatives who are protecting Boris Johnson… it’s kind of what I would expect from Chris Philp.” 

Suzanne Jimenez. Pic: Sophie Donne

Suzanne Jimenez, 47, an unemployed Purley care home resident said she thinks Philp’s support of the Prime Minister is “disgusting” and that the actions of the Conservative party haven’t been a good example for the public.

She said following lockdown rules was a struggle for everyone but if homeless people managed to social distance, then the Tory party should have had no such issues.

“I know a lot of homeless people… and even they’ve been isolating and keeping their distance,” Jimenez said.

Jill Smith. Pic: Sophie Donne

70-year-old Jill Smith, a retired Purley resident, said she was disappointed in Philp’s comments but “otherwise he’s been a good MP”. 

She said Philp’s bravery for standing by his party’s leader despite the likely backlash was commendable.

“I was impressed by the fact he was willing to go on Radio 4 Any Questions because I don’t think there have been many MPs that have been wanting to go on.”

Ethan Halli. Pic: Sophie Donne

Ethan Halli, an 18-year-old astrophysics student, said the Conservative party are “a bunch of wankers”.

Halli is strongly in favour of Johnson resigning and said: “pretty much anyone would be better than him”.

The young voter said he was unimpressed by his local MP’s stance on the issue and will be seeking “a bit of a change of pace” in the next general election.

Eastlondonlines approached a number of Croydon-based Conservative party members for comment, including Jason Perry, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of Croydon and Croydon Council opposition leader, however, all did not respond by the time of publication.

Among others, also contacted was Luke Clancy, shadow cabinet deputy for economy and jobs, Mario Creatura, opposition chief whip, Margaret Bird, shadow cabinet deputy for families, health and social care, opposition licensing lead, and constituency officer for Croydon South, and Ian Parker, shadow cabinet deputy for children young people and learning. None responded.

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