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Durham miners would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than invite Johnson to the Gala

DURHAM miners insisted today they would rather “be found dead in a ditch” than invite Boris Johnson to the Durham Miners’ Gala, despite Tory MPs “trolling” about attending the event.

The announcement came after several new Tory MPs in former coalfield areas have shown an interest in attending the Gala in July this year.

These include Dehenna Davison, who was elected the first Tory MP for Bishop Auckland in the constituency’s 101 year existence.

However, Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) president Alan Mardghum insisted that Tory MPs were unwelcome at the Gala, which is thought to be Europe’s largest celebration of trade unionism.

When asked by the BBC today about whether he would welcome any of the new Tory parliamentary intake at the Gala, Mr Mardghum responded: “To paraphrase Johnson, I would rather be found dead in a ditch than invite them, or Johnson, to the Gala.

“We never saw Arthur Scargill invited to the Tory Party conference. Why would we invite Tories to the Durham Miners’ Gala?

“They did their best to absolutely destroy the Durham miners and the miners of Great Britain.”

Mr Mardghum also added that they “might need to speak to the police to make sure that they’re safe on the day.”

In response, Ms Davison tweeted: “See you there, Alan.”

Other Tory MPs interested in going included Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East’s Simon Clarke, who called Mr Mardghum’s comments “idiocy,” and Richard Holden – who beat Laura Pidcock in North West Durham – who said he was “more than happy” to attend.

A subsequent statement by Mr Mardghum clarified his comments, saying: “Conservative MPs have never attended the Durham Miners’ Gala as official invitees or, as far as we know, the parade itself.

“The idea that we should invite them now is simply ludicrous and was started by a cheeky question from a journalist.”

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols defended the DMA, saying: “Unless they’re attending to deliver an apology on behalf of this government for Thatcherism and commit to a public inquiry on Orgreave, any Tory MP attending the Durham Miners’ Gala is just trolling.

“They don’t understand the event or what it stands for.”

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