25 May 2022 | NEWS

A report into the alleged parties that occurred in Downing Street during the pandemic has been released.

The report about the ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal conducted by Sue Gray, the Second Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office, was released today and unveiled the scale of the misconduct in the Prime Minister’s residence over the period.

It follows Ms Gray’s earlier update on her investigation in late January.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacted to the release of the report by apologising for his own actions and for those of his staff during the coronavirus lockdowns. He also stressed the importance of moving on from the scandal and focusing on the incoming problems the country faces.

The report compiled by Sue Gray found that, regardless of whether Downing Street officials thought that the events were within the restrictions, many of them were not “in line with Covid guidance at the time”. The report also questioned senior leadership figures throughout the machinery of government regarding their role in ‘Partygate’, concluding that there were “failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office”.

It further states: “The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture”.

It was also noted by Sue Gray that there were “multiple examples” of members of the Cabinet Office mistreating security personal and cleaning staff.

Mr Johnson argued during a subsequent press conference that his participation in the events was minimal in a bid to defend his position. He said: “My attendance at these moments, brief as it was, has not been found to be outside the rules.

“But clearly this was not the case for some of those gatherings after I had left and other gatherings when I was not even in the building.”

The Prime Minister told the press that he wished to move on from the scandal and “keep moving forward” with his job, adding: “I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver.

“No matter how bitter and painful that the conclusions of this may be – and they are – and no matter how humbling they are, I have got to keep moving forward and the Government has got to keep moving. And we are.”

On the allegations of the mistreatment of security and cleaning staff, Mr Johnson said he was appalled by the allegations and apologised to those affected. He said: “I was appalled to learn that there have been multiple examples in Sue Gray’s phrase of disrespectful land and poor treatment of cleaning and security personnel.

“I personally apologised to those dedicated members of staff for what happened and I expect anyone who behaved in that way to do the same.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, reacted to the report by saying it “provides definitive proof of how those within that building treated the sacrifices of the British people with utter contempt” in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions today.

“When the dust settles and the anger subsides, this report will stand as a monument to the hubris and the arrogance of a Government that believed it was one rule for them, another rule for everyone else.”

Boris Johnson now faces a potential uprising from his backbenchers that could challenge his leadership.

One Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said during PMQs: “This is a damning report about the absence of leadership, focus and discipline in No 10 – the one place where you expect to find those attributes in abundance.

“I’ve made my point and my position very clear to the Prime Minister: he does not have my support.

“But a question I humbly put to my colleagues is: are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behaviour publicly?”

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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