Sue Gray report: Theresa May issues scathing attack on Boris Johnson over Partygate scandal

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Watch: Theresa May tells PM he either didn't understand COVID rules or thought he was exempt

-PM apologises and "vows to fix it" after damning report into Partygate

-Sue Gray releases slimmed-down report, concluding there was "failure of leadership" and behaviour that is "difficult to justify"

-Police investigating 12 events including lockdown gathering inside Johnson's private flat

-Numerous Tories including ex-PM Theresa May vent anger at their leader

-Number 10 confirms the final report will be published when the police investigation has concluded

Theresa May has issued a blistering attack on Boris Johnson over allegations of rampant rule-breaking in Downing Street during lockdown.

Johnson apologised in the House of Commons after senior civil servant Sue Gray released a slimmed down version of her report into Partygate on Monday, concluding that there were "failures of leadership" and behaviour that was "difficult to justify".

The report revealed that police are investigating 12 potentially criminal events, including a "gathering" in the PM's private flat.

To a chorus of Labour jeers, Johnson promised a shake-up of No 10, and told MPs: "I get it and I will fix it."

The prime minister was also subjected to a number of rebukes from his own backbench MPs, one of the most stinging of which came from ex-PM May, who questioned whether Johnson thought the rules he imposed on the public did not apply to him.

Theresa May questioned whether Boris Johnson ignored his own rules (Parliament)
Theresa May questioned whether Boris Johnson ignored his own rules. (Parliament)

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.

"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?”

Read more - Sue Gray report: Police investigating 'gathering' inside Boris Johnson's private flat

While there was some support from Conservative MPs, others aimed frustration and anger at Johnson, who may have thought the publication of the report would have eased the pressure on him but in fact seems to be facing a growing mutiny over his handling of the Partygate scandal.

Former minister Andrew Mitchell told the Commons: “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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to his statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report. Picture date: Monday January 31, 2022.
Gray's 12-page report found there was a "serious failure to observe high standards" expected of those working at the heart of British democracy (PA)

Conservative Aaron Bell spoke about his experience of abiding by strict rules at his grandmother’s lockdown funeral.

He said: “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?”

Johnson sparked further rage within Tory ranks by failing to commit to publishing the entire Gray report when it becomes available.

In response, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood tweeted: “The PM promised to publish the Sue Gray Report in full so Parliament and the British people could better appreciate the facts and draw their own conclusions.

“If the PM fails to publish the report in full then he will no longer have my support.”

Facing bubbling Tory anger a spokesperson for Number 10 later confirmed the report would be released in full once the police had concluded their investigation.

They said: “Given the police have said they are investigating a number of events, it would not be appropriate to comment further while the Met’s investigation is ongoing.

“But, at the end of the process, the Prime Minister will ask Sue Gray to update her work in light of what is found. He will publish that update.

“However the Prime Minister is clear we must not judge an ongoing investigation and his focus now is on addressing the general findings.”

What was in Sue Gray's report?

Gray's 12-page report found there was a "serious failure to observe high standards" expected of those working at the heart of British democracy.

In total Gray has looked into 16 events, 12 of which the Met Police are now investigating.

Of those, the prime minister is directly implicated in at least three of them – his birthday party gathering in 19 June 2020; the Downing St garden party he attended on 20 May 2020; and a gathering in his private flat on 13 November.

The latter of these could prove problematic to the prime minister, who has previously flatly denied that any such gathering took place.

The report also found there "were failures of leadership and judgment" and the gatherings represented "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".

Many of the allegations involve allegations of drinking in Downing Street, of which Gray noted: "The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time."

Watch: Boris Johnson dodges questions on parties ahead of Sue Gray report release

Gray's finding also found that some staff felt "unable to" raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work".

Johnson spoke briefly with Gray on Sunday ahead of the delivery of her report on lockdown parties, Downing Street said.

The inquiry was called in December amid allegations of Christmas parties being held in Downing Street while the country was under strict COVID-19 laws banning socialisation.

The report was delayed after the Metropolitan Police announced a criminal probe had been launched into the parties.

It was further thrown into turmoil after the Met asked Gray to make “minimal reference” to potentially illegal Downing Street parties in the report.

Some accused the force of orchestrating a "cover up".

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