Political row erupts in UK over 'Partygate' investigator

Allies of former UK prime minister Boris Johnson were in uproar Thursday after a senior civil servant blamed for his downfall quit to work for the leader of the opposition Labour party.

Sue Gray became a household name in Britain after leading an inquiry into the "Partygate" scandal that contributed to Johnson losing his job last year, when members of his Conservative party turned on him.

She has resigned from her job as one of the government's top bureaucrats to serve as Labour leader Keir Starmer's chief of staff, officials confirmed, ahead of a general election expected next year.

The government accepted her resignation, though a spokesperson added: "We are reviewing the circumstances under which she resigned."

"So much for an impartial civil service, the Gray report now looks like a left wing stitch up against a Tory Prime Minister," tweeted former senior minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries agreed: "The Gray report was a stitch up of (the) PM."

In her report, Gray found "a failure of leadership and judgement" in Johnson's 10 Downing Street over the hosting of multiple, drunken parties during Covid lockdowns.

Johnson became the first serving UK prime minister found to have broken the law while in office when he was fined by police for attending a birthday party in June 2020.

Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also fined as part of the "Partygate" controversy, which dogged British politics through the first half of 2022.

Johnson's allies blame Sunak for helping to bring him down, and are agitating for the former leader's return as Labour opens up a commanding lead in opinion polls.

"I just want to point out purely for accuracy, when I stepped down we were only a handful of points behind the Labour party at that moment. I'm just saying that," Johnson said after a speech earlier Thursday.

But asked about his future plans, he said: "I think it very, very unlikely that I will need to do anything big in politics again."