Boris Johnson claims to have missed a conference of Northern MPs on a trip to Ukraine for fear of a poor reception after the party gate was ruled out as “conspiracy theorists”.
The Prime Minister unexpectedly withdrew from a North Conservative conference in Doncaster on Friday, just days before a crucial by-election in Wakefield that the Conservatives are expected to lose.
Instead, he traveled to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Sky News deputy political editor Sam Coates said organizers of the inaugural conference of the Northern Research Group (NRG) were “baffled” at the non-presentation, but were told there was a “good reason” “and that it was” important enough. ” .
However, he did not stop the speculation that Mr Johnson could have canceled out to miss a hard trip after the party scandal and a major revolt by his own MPs.
Johnson’s allies dismissed the allegations, and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace described them as “conspiracy mothers.”
He said there was “a lot of rubbish”, adding that such visits were to be arranged in “total secrecy” and that it was important for Johnson to show his support for an ally in war.
“Helping Ukraine to win and trying to help at home is tied. Part of the inflation we see comes from gas and food prices, which are partly driven upwards because of this conflict,” he tweeted.
“Amazing how an important trip can generate so many conspiracy whores.”
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14:36 lands in Kyiv for a surprise visit
Sky News understands that a Conservative MP at the conference was furious at the Prime Minister’s failure to attend the event, adding that they were told Mr Johnson was “on the train to Doncaster” on Friday morning.
“This is the first test of disclosure to his colleagues and he has failed,” the deputy said.
NRG leader Jake Berry said people were “disappointed” by Johnson’s failure to appear.
He said the summit stressed the importance of giving more control to the region so that it would not depend solely on Whitehall politicians.
He said unless the northerners could see the benefits of leveling up, the Conservatives would fight in the next general election.
‘I wouldn’t run away …’
“The Prime Minister’s move is a matter of Downing Street,” Berry told Channel 4 News.
“Clearly, people were disappointed. We had more than 30 colleagues here and 400 members.
“What we have set out here today are very positive ideas from the north, for the north, which are designed to attract voters from Wakefield and the north of England.
“It’s about fueling this debate about how here in the North of England we can regain control of our destiny, not depend on a Prime Minister in Whitehall or Kyiv or wherever he may be at an individual time to change our lives.
“Whoever the prime minister is, whatever the Conservative Party manifesto is, unless people are comfortable with what the Conservatives are achieving in the North, it will be a very difficult election. I would not shy away from that.”
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership who also attended the NRG event, said Johnson’s decision not to attend was a “missed opportunity.”
“Be brave, like Boris”
Downing Street said Johnson met with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine’s fight against Russia and to offer a major training program for Ukrainian forces “to help maintain its heroic defense.”
The government said the program, led by the UK, has the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days and will help both new and existing Ukrainian soldiers.
The initiative will train and train the Ukrainian Armed Forces using the proven experience of the British Army, which will allow them to accelerate their deployment, rebuild their forces and increase their resilience as they continue to defend their nation’s sovereignty against the Russian invaders, Downing Street added.
Johnson became the first leader of a G7 country to travel to Kyiv when he first went in April.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said at the time: “We welcome Boris Johnson to Kyiv … Be brave, like Boris. Be brave, like Ukraine.”
The latest trip came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian leader Mario Draghi met Zelenskyy as Ukraine tried to join the EU.