TORY PRIME Minister Boris Johnson refused to resign yesterday despite calls to do so from MPs of all parties across the House of Commons, including his own, after the publication of the Sue Gray report into Downing Street parties.
Gray blamed a ‘failure of leadership’ for allowing parties to take place in Downing Street when the country was under strict lockdown.
The senior civil servant said in her report that some events ‘should not have been allowed to take place’. Gray investigated 16 separate gatherings – including three that were not previously known about.
Johnson made a statement on the report at 3.30pm yesterday afternoon just hours after it was published, in which although he said ‘sorry’ and that he ‘accepted the findings of the report’ insisted that he would not resign and instead would ‘continue with the job I have been elected to do.’
He said: ‘I of course accept Sue Gray’s general findings in full. And above all, her recommendation that we must learn from these events and act now.
‘That is why we are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the cabinet office run, so that we can get on with the job I was elected to do and the job that this government was elected to do.’ He added: ‘I get it and I will fix it.’
Labour leader Kier Starmer said: ‘There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister himself is now subject to criminal investigation.’
However, Starmer left it up to the Tory Party itself to kick Johnson out.
He said: ‘Whatever your politics, whichever party you vote for, honesty and decency matters, every democracy depends on it. There are members opposite who know that and they know that the Prime Minister is incapable of it. The question they must now ask themselves is what are they are going to do about it? – it is only they that can end this farce.’
Johnson replied: ‘The Leader of the Opposition chooses to use this moment to pre-judge a police inquiry. I have complete confidence in the police and I don’t propose to offer any more commentary on the matter and I don’t believe that he should either.’
Then, in an extraordinary statement, Ex-Tory PM Theresa May 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 the same – 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 them – and others around him – or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10, which was it?’
Johnson replied: ‘No, that is not what the Gray report says. I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.’
The leader of the SNP Ian Blackford said: ‘He has wilfully misled Parliament.’
The speaker intervened to say: ‘ “Inadvertently” misled the House would be acceptable’ and asked him to withdraw his comment.
Blackford said: ‘The Prime Minister misled the House. The Prime Minister lied. He must now resign.’
The speaker demanded he withdraw ‘misled’, he refused, and was kicked out of the chamber.
Tory MP Andrew Mitchell then said he had given Boris Johnson his ‘full-throated support’ since he was first a Tory candidate 30 years ago.
However, he is ‘deeply concerned by these events’ and some of the things the Prime Minister has said from the dispatch box. Johnson ‘no longer enjoys my support,’ he added.