‘Life is OK without Westminster WhatsApp groups,’ says Red Wall MP

Marco Longhi said he left one Westminster group after his comments were leaked to the press.

22 February 2022

A Conservative MP has said “life is OK without WhatsApp groups” as he reflected on the changing nature of communication in politics.

Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North, who was elected in 2019, said he left a group chat on the popular messaging app early on after he was elected, after his conversation was leaked to newspapers.

But he sought to reassure colleagues that it was possible to make an impact without engaging in the groups, of which he said there were “literally dozens and dozens and dozens” across Westminster.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Marco Longhi giving a thumbs up during Prime Minister’s Questions (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Groups on WhatsApp – the popular mobile phone messaging app – have become a popular way for politicians to communicate, especially during the pandemic where new MPs could not meet in person.

Speaking to Gloria de Piero on GB News, Mr Longhi said: “I’m a little reluctant to play a part in them because I hate it when any impression could be given that there’s a party within a party.

“But what I also realise is that if you want to bring about change, and influence amongst senior decision-makers, you have to have the ability to have that influence.”

Mr Longhi spoke about leaving one group once its contents were leaked to the media.

He said: “Well, there was a WhatsApp group created for the new intake, and I was like a key participant in the beginning. The moment I saw that one of the conversations had made it into the papers, I actually left the group.

“I think I’m only one of very few who are no longer part of that group. One could argue, ‘well, you can be a member and not contribute, and just basically see what is happening on there’, but I just didn’t feel comfortable.”

He said that in a health-focused group he recalled that during the Falklands War the SS Canberra was used as a floating hospital. Drawing on his experience as a pilot, he suggested this could also be extended to airliners and the use of the oxygen systems on aircraft.

“Someone had leaked what I had said, in a very sort of placid way – you know – you’re a brand new MP, so it’s not that big,” he said.

“They put it on Guido Fawkes – you must be aware of it. ‘This crazy guy Marco, saying this, saying that, who does he think he is?’.

“Then Guido made out that I was some sort of idiot. A few weeks later, Guido apologised to me; I’m told that it was the first time they’d ever done that. So, yeah, they found out – and other countries actually picked up and ran with that idea.”

He said: “Life is absolutely OK without WhatsApp groups.”

Mr Longhi said he found feuding within his party “difficult” and that he felt MPs should be team players.

“One of the things that I find very sad is when I see people – whom I would otherwise admire – give really hostile speeches against the Government, or especially against Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister,” he said.

Ukraine – Russian tensions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson rubbing his hair to get ready for a interview during the Munich Security Conference in Germany (Matt Dunham/PA)

“I struggle with that, because I have to then decide for myself – is this person being self-indulgent? Are they full of their own self-importance? Are they putting themselves ahead of the team effort? All of which I give a lot of importance to – as I’ve said before – so I do find that kind of thing very interesting.”

While he added he still supported the beleaguered Prime Minister.

Speaking about the vote over the suspension of former Tory MP Owen Paterson, he said: “The way I interpreted it was: it’s a vote of the confidence of the Prime Minister, and there is no way I was going to throw my leader. I am a loyalist, and, I’m a team player.

“We all know that the Prime Minister has acknowledged that that wasn’t the right decision at the time, and subsequently reversed it. That’s it, you move on from there.”

The full interview with Mr Longhi will be broadcast on GB News at 12.30pm on Tuesday, February 22 2022.

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