Tory MP to raise Durham Miners' Gala safety concerns with police

A Conservative MP has said she will contact the police to discuss keeping her team safe at the Durham Miners' Gala after hearing "threatening tones".

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 4:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 5:16 pm
Crowds attend the 135th Durham Miners Gala.

Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland, received support from the Government after raising the issue in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to "disassociate himself strongly" from remarks made by the president of the area's miners' association.

Alan Mardghum said he was paraphrasing Mr Johnson's Brexit vow when saying he would "rather be found dead in a ditch" than invite Conservative MPs or Mr Johnson to the gala.

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He told an interview that the Conservatives "did their best to absolutely destroy" the Durham miners and those elsewhere, adding: "Can I stop them from coming in to Durham? It's a free country.

"But I'd suggest that if any of them are thinking of coming in that they speak to the police, who do an absolutely marvellous job on ensuring all of our personal security, so they might need to speak to the police to make sure they're safe on the day."

Ms Davison, one of the newly-elected north east Tory MPs, praised Durham Constabulary for its work in protecting people in the area.

She then told the Commons: "Given the threatening tones I heard yesterday, I'm unfortunately going to be contacting them to talk about the safety of my team at the Durham Miners' Gala in July."

Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis replied: "I did see the comments yesterday, which are very concerning.

"She's absolutely right to raise that issue with the relevant authorities, and I'm happy to discuss that with her as well to make sure it is properly taken forward."

Earlier, in response to new Tory MP Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales) saying the party now represents workers, Mr Johnson said: "We speak for working people and I thought it was very sad and surprising that the president of the Durham Miners' Gala should say the other day that Conservative MPs are not welcome.

"And I hope the right honourable gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, will disassociate himself strongly from those remarks."

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said outside the chamber: "Obviously Jeremy has always condemned violence of all sorts and does not wish to see violence of any sort.

"But he is a huge and strong supporter of the Durham Miners' Gala - he attends every year, it's a hugely important cultural event - I think it's the largest of its kind in Europe or possibly in the world."

Asked if he thinks Tory MPs are welcome, the spokesman said: "That's a matter for the Miners' Gala, he's not the organiser in any way."