Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report on the ‘Partygate’ scandal puts accountability first.
A report into Unlock UK government parties has said the blame for a rule-breaking “culture” in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has to rest with the heads.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s long-awaited report on the “Partygate” scandal released Wednesday said “senior leadership … must be held accountable” for a culture that allows for events that “shouldn’t have happened”.
Gray investigated 16 alcoholic gatherings that Johnson and his staff attended in 2020 and 2021 while people in the UK were barred from socializing under coronavirus restrictions imposed by the UK’s Conservative government. Johnson imposed.
Gray said there had been a “failure of leadership and judgment at number 10”, referring to the Downing Street prime minister’s office.
“People in the most junior positions attended gatherings where their seniors were present, or actually held,” she said.
“Many people will be disappointed when behavior of this kind takes place on this scale at the heart of government,” the Gray report said. “The public has a right to expect the highest standards of behavior in such places and it is clear that what has happened is not consistent with this.”
Gray did not specifically place the blame on Johnson’s doorstep but detailed and included photos from more than a dozen Downing Street gatherings, some of which he attended.
Johnson plans to speak to Congress about the report’s findings later Wednesday.
A separate police investigation leads to 126 people were fined, including Johnson – making him the first British prime minister ever found to have broken the law while in office. The scandal has led to calls for Johnson to step down.
He previously apologized but insisted he didn’t intentionally break the rules.
British media and opposition politicians have found it difficult to deal with staff narratives of “bringing your own booze parties” and “drinking Fridays” alcohol” regularly at the prime minister’s 10 Downing St office at the height of the pandemic.
Part of Gray’s report was published in January after police asked her to disclose details to avoid influencing their investigations.
The interim report criticized the “failure of leadership and judgment” that had allowed the parties to take place, and it described a Downing Street operation marked by excessive drinking and dysfunction. operability.
Claims that Johnson and his staff enjoy illegal office parties while millions in the country are prevented from seeing friends and family in 2020 and 2021 first emerged late last year.
In his statement to Parliament, Johnson will have to explain why he has previously told politicians that no parties are held in Downing Street and no rules have been broken.
Critics, some of them inside Johnson’s Conservative Party, say the prime minister lied to Parliament. Ministers who intentionally mislead Parliament are expected to resign.
Johnson has clung to power so far, in part because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deflected public and political attention.
Some Conservatives, who considered seeking a vote of no confidence in their leader, decided it would be rash to push Johnson out in the middle of the war, which is destabilizing Europe. and fueled the cost of living crisis.
The Prime Minister received further leniency when the Metropolitan Police told him last week that he would not be fined again even though he had attended a number of events that were under investigation.
But Gray’s conclusion could revive calls from Conservative MPs for a vote of no confidence in the leader who gave them a majority in parliament just over two years ago.
Under party rules, such a vote would be triggered if 15 percent of party politicians – 54 now – wrote a letter calling for one.
If Johnson loses such a vote, he will be replaced as prime minister and leader of the Conservative party. It is unclear how many letters have been sent so far.
Environment Secretary George Eustice defended the prime minister on Wednesday but admitted that “the line between what is acceptable and what is not blurred, and that was a mistake”.
“The prime minister himself has accepted that and acknowledged of course there are failures and therefore some changes are needed to the way the place is run,” Eustice told Times Radio.