oris Johnson has told MPs “I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch” as he responded to Sue Gray’s damning partygate report.
The 59-page document, released this morning, includes details of 16 boozy events across Whitehall and in Downing Street in breach of Covid laws.
It shows photographs from Lee Cain’s lockdown leaving party in November 2020 at which the Prime Minister gave a toast in front of a table strewn with half empty alcohol bottles.
Pictures from Boris Johnson’s surprise birthday party in June 2020 were also published in the document. Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined £50 for attending the event during the first national lockdown.
“A number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did,” Ms Gray found. “There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government. This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”
Mr Johnson’s statement to the Commons will be followed by a press conference about 3.30pm.
Boris Johnson: Cleaners will get ‘proper apology’ for Partygate abuse
Boris Johnson has said he will make sure cleaners and security staff at No 10 are properly apologised to for being treated with a lack of respect during Partygate.
Sue Gray’s report found “multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff” while events were taking place.
Asked by Labor MP Alison McGovern (Wirral South) asked if Mr Johnson had personally apologised to those cleaners and security staff, the Prime Minister replied: “This is the first I’ve seen of the detailed criticisms of civil servants for that abuse.
“I’ve said I think it’s intolerable and I’ll make sure staff, custodians, cleaners who were treated disrespectfully get a proper apology, I’ve apologised to them today already from this despatch box.”
Johnson denies allegation he asked Gray to drop report
Asked again by Labor’s Bristol South MP Karyn Smith whether he asked Sue Gray to drop her report, Mr Johnson replied: “No. This is a wholly independent report and the judgements contained in it are a matter for Sue Gray.
“I’m grateful to her for what she has done and I think her interim report was extremely useful to the government in making the changes we have”.
Mr Johnson had previously been asked in the Commons by Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Conservative MP, Aaron Bell about the allegation, but did not issue an emphatic denial.
MP speaks of ‘lovely grandmother’ dying alone during Partygate
A Labor MP has spoken emotionally about having let his “lovely grandmother” die alone in hospital during Partygate while questioning Boris Johnson over the Gray report.
Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said: “I feel as if I have completely let down those who showered me with so much love. Why wasn’t I by the bedside of my lovely grandmother during her final few days? Why did I let her die alone in that hospital?
“Why did I not attend the funeral of my uncle because of worries about Government restrictions on numbers? Why did I not go to comfort my brother-in-law’s father as he was dying in a Slough care home?
“With all of this context, it is utterly hypocritical for those individuals who were preaching to us ad nauseam about patriotism, the flag and the Queen, for those very people to then be having late night parties including two on the night before the Queen had to sit all alone during her husband’s funeral when the country was in a state of national mourning. Absolutely shameless.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle cut off the MP and told him it was not normal to “bring the monarch into proceedings”.
Boris Johnson replied: “I am very sorry for his loss and he has a perfect right to speak with the passion that he does. All I can say is that I take full responsibility for what happened, I do, and we have made extensive changes “
Boris Johnson declines to deny he asked Gray to drop report
Boris Johnson has declined to deny an allegation that he asked Sue Gray to drop her investigation into Partygate.
According to The Times newspaper, Mr Johnson suggested in a meeting with the senior civil servant that she did not need to publish the full report after the Met Police concluded its investigation.
Asked by Conservative MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Aaron Bell, whether there was any truth to the report, Mr Johnson replied: “What Sue Gray has published is entirely for Sue Gray. It is a wholly independent report.”
A Downing St spokesperson has previously denied Mr Johnson asked Gray to drop the report, insisting the pair only discussed “process” at a meeting.
Boris Johnson set to hold press conference at 3.30pm
The prime minister is expected to hold a Downing Street press conference at 3:30pm.
Boris Johnson will address the public following the findings of the report and also take questions from journalists.
‘Sir Beer Korma failing to hold himself to the same high standards he demanded of me’, says PM
Sir Keir Starmer is failing to hold himself to the same “high standards” that he “demanded of me”, the Prime Minister has said.
Responding to the Labor leader, Boris Johnson told the Commons: “After months of his, frankly, sanctimonious obsession, the great gaseous Zeppelin of his pomposity has been permanently punctured and irretrievably by the revelation that he is himself, he didn’t mention this , he is himself under investigation by the police.
“And yet, I am not going to mince my words, I am going to say this.
“Sir Beer Korma is currently failing to hold himself to the same high standards that he demanded of me. He called for me to resign when the when the investigation began. Why is he in his place?”
Mr Johnson added: “He is still there and so is the shadow deputy leader. I apologised when the revelations emerged. I continue to apologise, I repeat that I am humbled by what has happened and we instituted profound changes throughout Number 10.
“But I think in view of the mess that he has found himself in, it would now be a sensible thing for him too to apologise so that we can all collectively move on. That I think is what the people of this country want to see above all.”
Former housing secretary Robert Jenrick: This should not be a ‘stain’ on civil service’s reputation
Former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has said Sue Gray’s report should not be “a stain” on the reputation of the civil service.
“With the challenges that the country faces, is it not really true that it is now time to turn a page?” he asked.
Boris Johnson responded: “I agree with him absolutely.”
Tobias Ellwood: This is a damning report about the absence of leadership and focus in No 10
Conservative MP and Chair of the Defense Select Committee Tobias Ellwood has described Sue Gray’s findings as a “a damning report about the absence of leadership and focus in No 10”.
He said: “I’ve made my point and my position very clear to the Prime Minister: he does not have my support.”
Then throwing the question out to his colleagues, he asked other Tory MPs: “Are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behavior publicly?
“Can we continue to govern without distraction?
“Can we win the General Election on this current trajectory?”
“But my question to the Prime Minister is very clear, on the question of leadership: can he think of any other prime minister who’d have allowed such a culture of indiscipline to take place under their watch and if it did would they not have resigned?”
Boris Johnson, in his reply, said: “I think the answer is overwhelmingly and emphatically yes, we are going to go on and win the next general election because we’re going to get on with the job.”
I take full responsibility for what happened: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has repeated that he takes “full responsibility” for what happened, and he has been “humbled” by the whole investigation.
He also thanked Sue Gray for carrying out her report.
‘A fish rots from the head’ says Ian Blackford
SNP Westminster leader Sir Ian Blackford has called on Boris Johnson to resign.
He said Boris Johnson had adopted a “sinister pattern of evasion” throughout the Sue Gray investigation and that he was devoid of honesty and ethics.
“He can shake his head, but that’s the reality”, he said.
Not mincing his words, Mr Blackford added: “The Prime Minister brings shame on the office”.