Labour MPs likened to Man United players by MP Nick Fletcher

BORIS-backing Tory MP Nick Fletcher remained loyal to the last in defending his former leader — by likening Labour MPs to Man United players.

Don Valley MP Mr Fletcher — elected to represent Conisbrough, Denaby and other parts of Doncaster in 2019 — was one of just seven MPs voting against a privileges committee report which found Mr Johnson deliberately misled MPs over social gatherings at Downing Street during lockdown.

Mr Johnson was stripped of his parlimentary pass and would have faced a 90-day suspension, had he not quit as an MP a week before Monday’s vote.

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Rotherham’s two Labour MPs, Sarah Champion and John Healey and Doncaster North’s Ed Miliband all both voted to back the committee’s recommendations.

But Mr Fletcher remained steadfast in his opposition to its findings.

He called into question the committee’s membership — made up of four Tory MPs and three from Labour — by using Premier League football clubs as an analogy.

“If Man City’s star player had to sit in front of seven of his peers for a hearing, how fair would it be if three of the committee were Man United players?” Mr Fletcher said.

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“Not very.

“No matter how honourable they were, the opportunity to take out the opposition’s star player would be too much.

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“If we are going to use MPs as committee members, which I think we should—who else knows what this job is like—they must be of the same party.”

Mr Fletcher referred back to the Partygate scandal — and in particular, the birthday party which saw Mr Johnson fined for breaking Covid rules — that sparked the committee investigation, insisting: “A piece of cake in the Cabinet Office is hardly a party.”

Mr Fletcher described the inquiry process as “flawed” and said the vote was “futile” as Mr Johnson had already quit.

He added: “I will vote against because he has been punished enough.

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“I will vote against because if I ask people to forgive, then so must I.” I will vote against because this country has had enough, and so have I.”

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford abstained, saying: “The House of Commons convention is that MPs don’t vote on privileges reports, but in recent years many have tried to break down that convention for personal or political gain.

“This is why I didn’t vote on this nor did I vote on the privileges report about Margaret Ferrier MP, who broke Covid rules.

“As I said previously, when it comes to Boris as PM on the big calls — vaccine rollout, Brexit, Ukraine — he did what was best.”