‘The party is over’: Key reaction to Sue Gray report

‘He has no integrity, no moral authority and his position is untenable.’

Boris Johnson scratching his head

Sue Gray’s findings were expected to be highly critical of the culture in Downing Street, and so they were. Slamming ‘serious failures’ which led to repeated violations of Covid restrictions, the report has, inevitably, sparked a huge reaction.

We take a look at how the unions, opposition parties and the wider Left have reacted to the damning conclusions on the partygate scandal.

Civil servant unions call for the PM to resign

Union leaders representing civil servants have reacted to the report with anger, with calls being made for Johnson to resign.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said: “The Prime Minister should resign. He has consistently shown a failure of leadership.

“He has no integrity, no moral authority and his position is untenable.”

Prospect’s general secretary Mike Clancy is making similar demands, saying:

“Gray rightly concludes that senior leadership must bear responsibility for this culture.

“It would be a travesty if junior civil servants paid the price for this culture when their political bosses get off scot free.

“The measure of a boss is how they treat their staff, and with relentless attacks on civil servants in the press and threats to their jobs and pay, it’s clear what kind of boss Boris Johnson is.

“The PM must finally take responsibility for his actions and end his attacks on committed public servants who kept the country going whilst Downing Street partied.”

In response to Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons following PMQs, when he said staff had been working “extremely long hours” and “doing their best” to help the country,  Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)  leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood called on Boris Johnson to stand down. 

“All across these islands, ordinary, decent people were thrust into the most extraordinary circumstances over the last two years and faced with every day choices to bend or break the severe restrictions placed on them, the vast majority stuck by the rules.”

“They stuck by the rules when it meant missing a loved one’s funeral. They stuck by the rules when it meant giving up precious time with friends and family that they would never see again. The very least they could expect is that the prime minister would stick by those rules too,” said Eastwood.

Ian Blackford savages Johnson at PMQs

In an explosive Prime Minister’s Questions that took place minutes after the report was released, Ian Blackford, SNP leader in the House of Commons, savaged Johnson on the partygate scandal. Laying into the PM, Blackford accused him of ‘engaging in drinking and debauchery.’

“It’s all a joke to the prime minister. The prime minister has lost the trust of the public. He has lost what little moral authority he had left. The prime minister has apologised many times – not because he feels any genuine remorse. He still refuses to admit that there were parties and that he presided over them. He apologised for one simple reason – he got caught,” said Blackford in a fiery interrogation of the PM during PMQs.

Lib Dems call on Johnson to give No 10 cleaners a pay rise

In her report, Sue Gray said she had been aware of multiple examples of the poor treatment of security and cleaning staff at No 10 and that this was “unacceptable.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Johnson to use his own money to give cleaners at Downing Street a pay rise.

Wendy Chamberlain, the party’s chief whip, said: “It is shocking that cleaners in Downing Street were treated so disrespectfully after cleaning up after the mess made by Boris Johnson’s law-breaking parties.

“Johnson’s apology just doesn’t cut it. If he was truly sorry, we would take personal responsibility and offer the cleaners a pay rise out of his own pocket,” she added.

More that needs investigating

Concerns that the report misses details and fails to tell us everything, have also been raised.

ITV News presenter Paul Brand alludes to how Gray admitted to abandoning her investigations into the alleged ‘ABBA’ party in the No 10 flat on the night Dominic Cummings left Downing Street. “The Met reportedly interrupted Gray’s investigations and she decided it wouldn’t be proportionate to resume them after Met concluded”, says Brand.

In response to concerns about such missing details, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “For all that #SueGray has told us today – let’s not forgot what it hasn’t told us. There’s still so much missing from this report that needs investigating.”

Referring to a specific incident on page 31 of the report, Caroline Russell, Green Party politician and activist and London Assembly member, said she was “astonished” to see that a Metropolitan Police officer witnessed the law-breaking Secret Santa party on 18 December 2020 after a panic alarm was triggered at Number 10.

“An officer saw what was happening and the police did nothing,” Russell tweeted.

‘Heavy boozing and people throwing up’

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, was also quick to share his thoughts about the report, tweeting:

“Heavy partying, boozing and people throwing up, Sue Gray’s report shows how Johnson turned No 10 Downing Street into close to a regular version of the Bullingdon Club.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves summarised her thoughts on the damning dossier, posting:

“The party is over Boris Johnson. Resign.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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