'I'm proud of Boris' - Norfolk village gives its verdict on namesake PM

Johnson Street

Johnson Street - Credit: George Thompson

Boris Johnson's desperate battle to cling to power is gripping Westminster. But what does the man and the woman in the street think? GEORGE THOMPSON went to find out... in the Norfolk hamlet of Johnson Street

The tiny village of Johnson Street is easy to miss, along the road between Ludham and Ludham Bridge.

Indeed, the issue of speeding motorists on the busy A1062 is usually the topic of greatest concern among locals in the Broads hamlet.

But on Wednesday - the morning after the night before, when a series of high profile government resignations had left Boris Johnson clinging to power by a thread - the fate of the village's namesake in Downing Street was at the top of the agenda.


'AN ANTI-BREXIT COUP'

Barry Whitehouse

Barry Whitehouse - Credit: George Thompson

Barry Whitehouse, 75, a retired firefighter, said: “I’m a Brexiteer and I think all this is building up to try get rid of Boris Johnson because he’s a Brexiteer.

"I’m really surprised. He got in with an 80 seat majority and yes he’s made mistakes, but I’m disappointed that Rishi [Sunak] and [Sajid] Javid have resigned."

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Mr Whitehouse blamed the media and 'Remainers' trying to push the country back into Europe for being negative about Mr Johnson.

“They should be working together to get things sorted when we have periods like this with the pandemic.”

Mr Whitehouse said he would be supporting the Conservatives at the next election but hoped there would not be a snap election.

He was concerned that voting for another party might lead to Labour or another opposition party coming in and taking the country back into the EU.

Asked who he would like to see lead the party if it wasn’t Mr Johnson he said Steve Baker, a prominent Brexiteer, or Lee Anderson, a Tory MP from the so-called Red Wall.

“I’m proud of Boris for sticking around,” he added.


'HE'S HAD TO DEAL WITH A LOT'

Lindsey, another Johnson Street resident who asked not to give her surname, also blamed the media for what she perceived as a campaign to bring the PM down. 

“They don’t realise what good he had done for the country in lockdown. He has had so much thrown at him while he has been in office.

"There is no one else who could lead, other than Lord Frost [the PM's former adviser and Brexit negotiator].

"With Chris Pincher [the Tory MP facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour], [the PM] was told about that in 2019. How is he meant to remember that three years later. 

“I will be voting Conservative at the next election. I always used to be Labour but I turned when Maggie [Thatcher] came in.” 


'YOU CAN'T BE CERTAIN IF HE IS TELLING LIES'

Rita Stocking, 86, said: “I think maybe [Mr Johnson] has been telling lies about what he knew [about Mr Pincher].  

“I'm not sure how I will vote next time. My husband and I do usually vote Conservative - we have done for years.  

“We would probably vote for the Conservatives again but the way things are going I don't think it will Boris Johnson leading the party.

“He seems likable enough but I don’t really know him, really, and I don't know for certain whether he has been telling lies."


'THEY WON'T CATCH OILED SLIPPERY PIG'

Jim, who declined to give his surname, was in Johnson Street on holiday from Lincolnshire.

“Boris is an oiled slippery pig," he said. "There no way they are going to catch him.

"It’s two years before the next election and if they change leader now they just have two years to discredit themselves and get caught out.

"I don’t think he will be fighting the next election but they will try to keep him around a bit longer.”

Michelle Freeman, also on holiday from Lincolnshire, said: "I have voted Conservative in the past.

"I don’t think he’ll be there at the next election. If he had held his hands up earlier about lying it might be different. But he has lied on several issues.

"He should have held his hands up, not just tried to find an excuse.

"The government aren’t in keeping with how we feel. If I make a mistake I would put my hands up, I don’t like liars. It will be quite the consideration at the next election [who I vote for].”


'HE THINKS HE HAS THE CHARISMA TO GET THROUGH THIS'

Alan Gabbitas, 76, and Sue Gabbitas, 74 from Sheffield

Alan Gabbitas, 76, and Sue Gabbitas, 74 from Sheffield - Credit: George Thompson

Alan Gabbitas, 76, and Sue Gabbitas, 74, from Sheffield, were in Johnson Street while holidaying on the Broads.

They said they thought the PM had lied about what he knew about Mr Pincher, but said they were torn because of the work they thought Mr Johnson had done during the pandemic.

“I think he believes he has the charisma that can get him through this," Mr Gabbitas said.

“With things like Covid and Brexit, I don’t think anyone could have done any better, but there’s too many things boiling up now.

Mrs Gabbitas added: “Obviously he must’ve known about this Pincher."

Mr Gabbitas said he had voted Labour in the past but switched to the Conservatives and pro-Brexit parties in the past. 

His wife said she may decide not to vote at all.