Theresa May led Tory fury at Boris Johnson over Partygate  today as he endured a rough ride from his own side and calls to quit form the opposition.

The former prime minister, who was ousted and replaced by Mr Johnson in 2019, said the public ‘had a right to expect (him) … to set an example’ after the report was released today.

The much reduced paper revealed that police are probing 12 events in Downing Street including several the PM attended and an alleged party held in his private flat in No11.

Mrs May was joined in her criticism by several other Tories including former chief whips Andrew Mitchell and Mark Harper.

And Labour led calls for his resignation, with leader Sir Keir Starmer branding him a prime minister ‘without shame’.

Sir Keir Starmer told MPs: ‘By routinely breaking the rules he set, the Prime Minister took us all for fools, he held people’s sacrifice in contempt, he showed himself unfit for office.

‘His desperate denials since he was exposed have only made matters worse. Rather than come clean, every step of the way he’s insulted the public’s intelligence.’

Former PM Mrs May was one of the first Tories to rise to question Mr Johnson after he apologised to the Commons.

But if he was hoping for support he found none. In a withering intervention she said: ‘The Covid regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public. They had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules and indeed those around him to have done so too and to set an example in following those rules.

The former prime minister, who was ousted and replaced by Mr Johnson in 2019, said the public 'had a right to expect (him) ... to set an example' after the report was released today.

The former prime minister, who was ousted and replaced by Mr Johnson in 2019, said the public 'had a right to expect (him) ... to set an example' after the report was released today.

The former prime minister, who was ousted and replaced by Mr Johnson in 2019, said the public ‘had a right to expect (him) … to set an example’ after the report was released today.

The much reduced paper revealed that police are probing 12 events in Downing Street including several the PM attended and an alleged party held in his private flat in No11.

The much reduced paper revealed that police are probing 12 events in Downing Street including several the PM attended and an alleged party held in his private flat in No11.

The much reduced paper revealed that police are probing 12 events in Downing Street including several the PM attended and an alleged party held in his private flat in No11.

Labour led calls for his resignation, with leader Sir Keir Starmer branding him a prime minister 'without shame'.

Labour led calls for his resignation, with leader Sir Keir Starmer branding him a prime minister 'without shame'.

Labour led calls for his resignation, with leader Sir Keir Starmer branding him a prime minister ‘without shame’.

SNP’s Blackford ejected from Commons debate

Ian Blackford was ejected from the Commons today after refusing to withdraw criticism of Boris Johnson.

The SNP Westminster leader said the Sue Gray’s report was a ‘farce’ with ‘no facts’.

During his speech, Mr Blackford was also repeatedly asked by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to withdraw the word ‘misled’, after accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of having ‘wilfully misled Parliament’.

But he refused to do so and was eventually marched out of the chamber by men with swords. 

Mr Blackford had told MPs: ‘So here we have it. The long-awaited Sue Gray report, what a farce. It was carefully engineered to be a fact-finding exercise, with no conclusions. Now we find it’s a fact-finding exercise with no facts.

‘So let’s talk facts. The Prime Minister has told the House that all guidance was completely followed, there was no party, Covid rules were followed and that ‘I believed it was a work event’.

‘Nobody, nobody believed it then. And nobody, nobody believes you now, Prime Minister. That is the crux – no ifs, no buts – he has wilfully misled Parliament.’

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‘What the Gray report does show is that Number 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public, so either my right honourable friend had not read the rules or didn’t understand what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘No, Mr Speaker that is not what the Gray report says, I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.’

Meanwhile Conservative Aaron Bell spoke about his grandmother’s lockdown funeral, asking: ‘Does the Prime Minister think I’m a fool?

‘It seems a lot of people attended events in May 2020 – the one I recall attending was my grandmother’s funeral. She was a wonderful woman,’ the Newcastle-under-Lyme MP said.

‘As well as a love for her family she served her community as a councillor and she served Dartford Conservative Association loyally for many years.

‘I drove for three hours from Staffordshire to Kent, there were only 10 at the funeral, many people who loved her had to watch online.

‘I didn’t hug my siblings, I didn’t hug my parents, I gave the eulogy and then afterwards I didn’t even go to her house for cup of tea. I drove back three hours from Kent to Staffordshire. Does the Prime Minister think I’m a fool?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘No, and I want to thank (him) and I want to say how deeply I sympathise with him and his family for their loss, and all I can say is again that I’m very, very sorry for misjudgments that may have been made by me or anybody else in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.’

During the stormy House of Commons session, former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said he had previously given his ‘full-throated support’ to the Prime Minister over a 30-year period.

But Mr Mitchell became the latest Tory MP to publicly question Mr Johnson, saying: ‘Does he recall that ever since he joined the party’s candidates list 30 years ago until we got him into Number 10 he has enjoyed my full-throated support?

‘But I am deeply concerned by these events and very concerned indeed by some of the things he has said from that despatch box and has said to the British public and our constituents.

Booze culture and ‘difficult to justify’ behaviour in No10

Sue Gray set out her findings in seven sections of her 12-page report today.

  1. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify. 
  2. At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time. 
  3. At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did. 
  4. The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace. 
  5. The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street. During the pandemic it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a more covid secure means of holding group meetings in a ventilated space. This was a sensible measure that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight. This was not appropriate. Any official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment. 
  6. Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so. No member of staff should feel unable to report or challenge poor conduct where they witness it. There should be easier ways 8 for staff to raise such concerns informally, outside of the line management chain. 
  7. The number of staff working in No 10 Downing Street has steadily increased in recent years. In terms of size, scale and range of responsibility it is now more akin to a small Government Department than purely a dedicated Prime Minister’s office. The structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion. The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability. Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be addressed as a matter of priority. 
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‘When he kindly invited me to see him 10 days ago, I told him that I thought he should think very carefully about what was now in the best interests of our country and of the Conservative Party, and I have to tell him he no longer enjoys my support.’

Demands for Boris Johnson to quit intensified today as Sue Gray’s long-awaited report revealed that he is personally being investigated by police.

The Prime Minister was also castigated by his political opponents for appearing to have lied to MPs from the despatch box about a gathering he attended.

Ms Gray’s six-page report today revealed Scotland Yard is probing a gathering that took place in his No11 flat on November 13, 2020, involving his now wife Carrie.

But Mr Johnson has previously told the Commons there was no gathering on that date. Lying in the House is generally seen as a breach of the ministerial code and a resigning matter.

A spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson told the Mail on Sunday only yesterday that it was ‘totally untrue to suggest Mrs Johnson held a party in the Downing Street flat’ on that day. 

Police are also looking into gatherings in the Downing Street garden and his birthday party in 2020 in the Cabinet Room, both events he attended. 

Mr Johnson today turned down several requests to publish the full Sue Gray report when he is able to .

Mr Harper told the Commons: ‘The question here is whether those who make the law, obey the law. That’s pretty fundamental.

‘Many have questioned, including my constituents, the Prime Minister’s honesty, integrity and fitness to hold that office. In judging him he rightly asked us to wait for all the facts.

‘Sue Gray has made it clear in her update today that she couldn’t produce a meaningful report with the facts.

‘So could I ask the Prime Minister the question (Labour MP Diane Abbott) asked him and to which he didn’t give an answer: when Sue Gray produces all of the facts in her full report after the police investigation, will he commit to publish it immediately and in full?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘What we’ve got to do is wait for the police to conclude their inquiries, that is the proper thing to do. People have given all sorts of evidence in the expectation that it would not necessarily be published, at that stage I will take a decision about what to publish.’ 

Fellow Conservative MP Steve Baker asked the Prime Minister what his message is to the millions of people who ‘meticulously complied with all of the rules and suffered terribly for it’.

The MP for Wycombe said: ‘Millions of people took seriously a communications campaign, apparently designed by behavioural psychologists to bully, to shame and to terrify them into compliance with minute restrictions on their freedom.

‘What is my right honourable friend’s central message to those people who meticulously complied with all of the rules and suffered terribly for it, including, I might say, those people whose mental health will have suffered appallingly as a result of the messages his Government was sending out?’

Boris Johnson replied: ‘I want to thank all those people for everything that they did, because together they helped us to control coronavirus and I think thanks to their amazing actions in coming forward to get vaccinated, we’re now in a far better position than many other countries around the world. So I have a massive debt of gratitude to all the people that he describes.’

The Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: ‘Everyone knows Boris Johnson broke the rules and lied to the country. It’s time Conservative MPs did their patriotic duty, listened to their constituents and stood up for decency by sacking Boris Johnson. He must go before he does our country any more harm.’

‘For months ministers hid behind Sue Gray, now they’re hiding behind Cressida Dick. Yet Boris Johnson is still refusing to give an honest answer to a simple question. The public suffered while Number 10 partied: they deserve the full truth instead of being left in the dark.’

David Lammy

David Lammy

Ed Davey

Ed Davey

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: ‘This report shows what we have known all along: The Prime Minister is a coward, a rule-breaker and needs to step down.’ Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey (right) said: ‘It’s time Conservative MPs did their patriotic duty, listened to their constituents and stood up for decency by sacking Boris Johnson’

The top civil servant’s findings have been released disclosing that police are now investigating eight bashed as potentially criminal lockdown breaches.

They include a gathering in the Cabinet Room for Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday in June 2020, and what has been described as a ‘victory party’ with Abba songs in the No11 flat after Dominic Cummings was ousted in November that year following a power struggle with Carrie Johnson.

A ‘bring your own booze’ party allegedly organised by Mr Johnson’s private secretary Martin Reynolds is also being looked at by Scotland Yard, as well as a raucous leaving do for senior aides on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

And Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has been dragged into the furore as a drinks event in his office is also under the police microscope. He has insisted he did not attend.

In the document – which runs to just six pages plus annexes – Ms Gray said she is ‘extremely limited’ in what she could publish due to police requesting ‘minimal reference’ to incidents they are investigating.

And she made clear that she wants to release more information once Scotland Yard has completed its work – something No10 has so far refused to commit to.

Mr Johnson published the watered down ‘as received’ barely an hour before he makes a Commons statement at 3.30pm. He will then address a meeting of the Conservative parliamentary party in Downing Street at 6.30pm.

The Gray report warns that ‘excessive consumption of alcohol’ is not appropriate at the heart of government.

Her brutal conclusions state: ‘Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify.

‘At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.

‘At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.

‘The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.

‘The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street. During the pandemic it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a more covid secure means of holding group meetings in a ventilated space. This was a sensible measure that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight. This was not appropriate. Any official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.’

Rumours have been swirling at Westminster that key aides will have to fall on their swords, but Mr Johnson is said to feel ‘reassured’ that the threat of a successful coup against him by Tory backbenchers has receded. 

Source: Daily Mail

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