Johnson thinks he should stay PM after damning Sue Gray report
Updated 25 minutes ago
BORIS JOHNSON Said he ‘overwhelmingly’ believes he should remain in office despite public anger at the ‘bitter and painful’ findings of the inquiry into loud parties at No 10 during the lockdown coronavirus.
The British Prime Minister acknowledged people were “outraged” by the damning findings of Sue Gray’s investigation into law breaking in government, but defied fresh calls for him to step down.
He said he takes “full responsibility” for the scandal but sought to downplay his personal involvement in the rallies detailed in the senior official’s report.
The Gray report detailed gatherings in which officials drank so much they were sick, sang karaoke, got into altercations and abused security and cleaning staff at a time when millions of people across the country couldn’t see their friends and family.
Following its publication this morning, Johnson was asked at a press conference whether or not he had considered stepping down during the rallies.
He replied, “I think it’s my job to keep going and delivering.
“No matter how bitter and painful the conclusions of this may be – and they are – and no matter how humble they are, I must keep moving forward and the government must keep moving forward. And we are.”
The report says No 10’s ‘senior management’ must ‘take responsibility’ for the culture that led to breaches of lockdown rules in a series of events in 2020 and 2021.
The Prime Minister faced fresh demands to resign after the report said the public would be “appalled” by the behavior uncovered.
“The events I investigated were followed by government leaders. A lot of these things shouldn’t have happened,” Gray said.
The Metropolitan Police issued 126 fines for breaking the rules in No 10 and Whitehall, with the Prime Minister receiving a single notice of a fixed fine for his birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020.
But senior official Gray condemned the broader culture that had been allowed to grow under Johnson’s leadership.
Boris Johnson told MPs he took responsibility for the failings in his charge.
She said some of the more junior officials who attended the parties “felt that their attendance at some of these events was permissible given the presence of senior leaders.”
“The center’s senior leadership, both political and official, must take responsibility for this culture,” Gray said.
She also said there were “multiple instances of disrespect and mistreatment by security and cleaning staff” during the events, which was “unacceptable”.
“Many will be appalled that behavior like this has taken place on this scale at the heart of government,” she said.
“The public has a right to expect the highest standards of behavior in such places and it is clear that what happened fell far short of that.”
Labor leader Keir Starmer told the Commons the report ‘laid bare the rot’ in Number 10 and called on Tory MPs to tell Boris Johnson ‘the game is over’ and it’s ‘time to do his suitcases”.
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner called the contents of the report “indefensible”, calling Johnson’s Downing Street “rotten from above”.
You cannot be a legislator and an outlaw.
It’s time Tory MPs told Boris Johnson this has been going on for too long.
Only then will dignity be restored to Downing Street. pic.twitter.com/gEwvnke9L6
—Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) May 25, 2022
Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Ian Blackford called the report “damning” and called on the Prime Minister to resign for “orchestrating” the Downing Street scenes.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: ‘Any other Prime Minister would be forced to resign by a report as damaging as this, but Tory MPs are still standing up for Johnson and allowing him to hang on.’
Later today, Johnson is expected to face Tory MPs who will ultimately decide his fate in a private meeting in parliament.
Backbench MP Tobias Ellwood, a prominent critic of the British Prime Minister, challenged Johnson over the ‘damning report’ which revealed an ‘absence of leadership, focus and discipline in No 10’.
He asked his fellow Tories “are you prepared day in and day out to publicly defend this behavior” and asked, “Can we win the general election on this current trajectory?” »
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the #SueGrayReport lays bare the magnitude of the violation of the rules that @BorisJohnson chaired. The rules he lied to parliament were followed at all times. A culture of booze and debauchery at No10, while we stayed at home. His only option should be to quit #LF pic.twitter.com/rZRUBH1s9c
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) May 25, 2022
Findings from the investigation include:
- Staff continued to drink at No 10 until the early morning hours on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, with the last recorded departure at 4.20am.
- Johnson joined five advisers at a ‘food and drink’ event at his Downing Street flat the night Dominic Cummings’ departure as chief adviser was announced.
- Former property and ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office gathering where one person was ill and there was a ‘minor altercation’ between two others.
- The Prime Minister’s then-senior adviser Martin Reynolds bragged “we seem to have gotten away with it with ‘the garden party bring your own booze’ in a WhatsApp message to a special adviser.
- Johnson brought the cheese and wine to the garden gathering on May 15, 2020 from his own apartment.
The report released by Gray includes a series of photos, with Johnson pictured at the surprise Cabinet Room birthday party on June 19, 2020 for which he was fined.
He is seen with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with sandwiches, juice and what appears to be Estrella lager – in one photo, Johnson is seen lifting a can of beer in the air.
Other photos include previously seen footage of Johnson raising a glass of wine during a departure for his former spin doctor Lee Cain on November 13, 2020.
Johnson at a rally at 10 Downing Street for the departure of spin doctor Lee Cain.
Source: Report by Sue Gray/Cabinet Office/AP
In a statement to the Commons, Johnson repeated his apology at the birthday party and added: “I take full responsibility for everything that happened on my watch.
“Sue Gray’s report emphasized that it is up to the political leaders of Number 10 to take ultimate responsibility and, of course, I do.”
Johnson said he was “humbled” by the experience and learned his lesson.
But he said he was “as surprised and disappointed as anyone” by the report’s revelations and “I was appalled at some behavior, particularly in the treatment of security and cleaning staff”.
“I would like to apologize to these staff members and expect anyone who behaved in this way to apologize to them as well.”