Boris Johnson ‘sorry’ after Sue Gray’s report criticises ‘failures of leadership’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report (PA)Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report (PA)

Boris Johnson has apologised after Sue Gray’s report criticised “failures of leadership and judgment” over lockdown-breaking parties held in Downing Street.

He told the House of Commons that he would make changes to the way No 10 and the Cabinet Office are run.

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Concluding his statement on the report, Mr Johnson said: “I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country that I know what the issue is.”

Labour MPs shouted back: “You.”

He added that he “accepted” the findings of Ms Gray’s report, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for his resignation.

What Boris Johnson said about the Sue Gray report

The Prime Minister told MPs: “We are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run so that we can get on with the job that I was elected to do and the job that this Government was elected to do”.

He added: “First it is time to sort out what Sue Gray rightly calls the fragmented and complicated leadership structures of Downing Street which she says have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of the expansion of Number 10 and we will do that, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister with a permanent secretary to lead Number 10.

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“Second it is clear from Sue Gray’s report that it is time not just to review the civil service and special adviser codes of conduct wherever necessary, to ensure that they take account of Sue Gray’s recommendations, but also to make sure that those codes are properly enforced.

“And third I will be saying more in the coming days about the steps we will take to improve the Number 10 operation and the work of the Cabinet Office, to strengthen cabinet government and to improve the vital connection between Number 10 and parliament.”

Sir Keir Starmer calls for report to be published in full

Sir Keir urged the Prime Minister to publish Sue Gray’s report in full. 

However, he insisted it is already clear that what she has disclosed so far is “the most damning conclusion possible”.

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Sir Keir told the House of Commons: “The Prime Minister repeatedly assured the House that the guidance was followed and the rules were followed. 

“But we now know that 12 cases have breached the threshold for criminal investigation, which I remind the House means that there is evidence of serious and flagrant breaches of lockdown, including the party on May 20 2020, which we know the Prime Minister attended, and the party on November 13 2020 in the Prime Minister’s flat.

“There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister himself is now subject to criminal investigation. The Prime Minister must keep his promise to publish Sue Gray’s report in full when it is available, but it is already clear what the report disclosed is the most damning conclusion possible.”

What Sue Gray’s report said

In her 12-page report on the partygate row, Ms Gray criticised “failures of leadership and judgment” by parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office.

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She said the Downing Street garden was “used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight” and “this was not appropriate”.

It was also revealed that police are investigating 12 events.

These include an event to mark Mr Johnson’s birthday in June 2020 and a “gathering in the No 10 Downing Street flat” on November 13 2020, the night the Prime Minister’s former aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain left their roles.

The May 20 2020 “bring your own booze” event in the No 10 garden which Mr Johnson attended for 25 minutes is also under investigation.

Ms Gray’s report also made it clear that the police investigation prevented more substantial findings being released.

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