Sue Gray’s report on lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and Whitehall has been published, concluding that senior leadership “must bear responsibility” for the culture at Downing Street.
In a Downing Street news conference following the publication of the report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “accepts responsibility for the totality of what happened” during the partygate scandal and that he “bitterly regrets it”.
In her report on partygate Sue Gray said “many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government” and “what happened fell well short” of the standards expected.
The Sue Gray report gave details of gatherings at which officials drank so much they were sick, sang karaoke, became involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff at a time when millions of people across the country were unable to see friends and family.
The Metropolitan Police has issued 126 fines for rule breaches in No 10 and Whitehall, with the Prime Minister receiving a single fixed-penalty notice for his birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020.
But senior civil servant Ms Gray condemned the wider culture that had been allowed to develop under Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons that report “laid bare the rot” in No 10 and called on Tory MPs to tell Boris Johnson “the game is up” and that it is “time to pack his bags”.
Follow the latest in our live blog.
Sue Gray report: key findings, statements and reaction as Boris Johnson faces mounting pressure
Boris Johnson set to have ‘audience with the Queen’
The Prime Minister was due to have “an audience with the Queen” on Wednesday evening, following the publication of the Sue Gray partygate investigation, according to a Conservative Party source.
According to PA news agency the source said the meeting was “not in the flesh”.
Anger at finding of ‘unacceptable’ treatment of security and cleaning staff
An industry leader has hit out at the “contempt” shown towards cleaners at 10 Downing Street following revelations that red wine was spilt on a wall after a Christmas party.
Union leaders representing civil servants reacted with anger to the findings of Sue Gray’s “partygate” report.
Jim Melvin, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said: “At a time when many cleaning and hygiene operational staff were putting themselves at risk to maintain high standards of hygiene and ensure that key workers and the public were safe and well during the pandemic, it is absolutely appalling and upsetting to hear that they were being treated with such contempt by people who sit within Government or the civil service and who frankly should know better.
Petros Elia, general secretary of the United Voices of World union, said: “We’re not in the least bit surprised by the revelations in the report. We have many members who work as cleaners and security guards and these workers face disrespect on a daily basis in offices across London, not just in Downing Street.
“It is disrespectful to have rowdy parties during the pandemic and expect cleaners to mop up after you, but it is also disrespectful to pay cleaners, porters, security guards… poverty wages, not give them full sick pay or better pensions.
Sajid Javid says people are ‘understandably very angry’ about behaviour described in report
Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “People are understandably very angry about the poor behaviour set out in Sue Gray’s report.
“The PM has apologised and taken full responsibility for all that happened. Changes have already been made. Now let’s get on with tackling the big challenges ahead.”
Archbishop calls for return to good standards in public life after Partygate
The Archbishop of Canterbury has reacted to Sue Gray’s report on partygate by saying “we need to rediscover” good standards in public life.
Archbishop Justin Welby said the report shows that “culture, behaviour and standards in public life” matter.
In a statement, the archbishop said: “Sue Gray’s report shows that culture, behaviour and standards in public life really matter.
“We need to be able to trust our national institutions, particularly in times of great trouble.”
Boris Johnson ‘extremely apologetic’ at 1922 Committee
Boris Johnson apologised directly to Tory MPs and told them their work is now regaining public trust after the partygate scandal, a Conservative colleague said.
Speaking outside the 1922 Committee meeting, Jonathan Gullis said the Prime Minister had been “extremely apologetic” and had faced no dissenting voices so far.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s main message was, Mr Gullis told reporters: “Key message is that he’s sorry and we’ve got to win back the trust of the country.”
‘Expectation’ PM would need to stand down if found to have intentionally misled House of Commons
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said if the Privileges Committee found Prime Minister Boris Johnson had intentionally misled the House of Commons, there was an “expectation” he would have to stand down.
Mr Ross said: “If they reach a conclusion that the Prime Minister deliberately and intentionally went to the House of Commons to mislead people, then the ministerial code is actually very clear. The expectation is that the Prime Minister or any minister should stand down.
Mr Ross said he had been angered “by the way this has been handled, originally dismissed and then issues, you know, having to be dragged out or people involved, both politicians and people who are in a very privileged position to serve and within the civil service or within the party of government.
Boris Johnson arrives at meeting of 1922 committee
Boris Johnson was met by the customary banging of tables as he arrived at the meeting of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives in Parliament.
Mr Johnson is addressing the committe this evening.
The group holds the power to table a vote of no-confidence in a leader or trigger a leadership election.
Boris Johnson rules out resigning
Asked at the news conference if he had ever considered resigning, the Prime Minister said: “I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver.
“No matter how bitter and painful that the conclusions of this may be – and they are – and no matter how humbling they are, I have got to keep forward and the Government has got to keep moving. And we are.
“We will get on and continue to do the tough things.”
It remains to be seen whether that decision will be taken out of his own hands by Tory MPs, who could force a no confidence vote.
PM accepts 'responsibility for the totality of what happened’
The Prime Minister said he “accepts responsibility for the totality of what happened” during the partygate scandal and that he “bitterly regrets it”.
Asked about what his own personal failings were, he said: “The best thing I can invite you to do is look very carefully at what Sue [Gray] has said and if you read her report and you look at the the detail in which she describes my own participation in the events, what I did, how long I was there, and I think you get a pretty fair picture of what took place.
“That does not mean that I don’t accept responsibility for the totality of what happened. And, yes, I bitterly regret it.
“That’s why we’ve taken steps since the interim report, in particular, to drive a lot of change in No 10 and the way No 10 works, and to ensure that there are much clearer lines of command and everybody understands the difference between being engaged in work and in socialising. I think that is the crucial thing.”
Boris Johnson speaking at Downing Street news conference
Boris Johnson has said he has personally apologised to No 10 cleaners and security staff who were subjected to “disrespectful and poor treatment” highlighted in Sue Gray’s report.
The Prime Minister is standing in front of a Downing Street press conference right now.
He said: “I was appalled to learn that there have been multiple examples in Sue Gray’s phrase of disrespectful land and poor treatment of cleaning and security personnel.
“I personally apologised to those dedicated members of staff for what happened and I expect anyone who behaved in that way to do the same.”
He added: “I’ve tried to explain the context of why I was at other events where I was saying farewell to valued colleagues.
“I know that some people will think it was wrong to even do that. I have to say I respectfully disagree, I think it was right.
“When people who were working very hard, for very long hours, when they are giving up a huge amount to serve their country and they are moving on to some other part of government or leaving government service altogether, I think it is right to thank them.
“I repeat what I said in the Commons earlier on, I believe that they were work events, part of my job, and that view appears to be substantiated by the fact that I wasn’t fined for those events.
“For the rest, I just want to say I appreciate that things didn’t go in the way I would have wanted. The events proceeded afterwards in a way I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to see.
“What happened with the custodians and the cleaners was plainly utterly unacceptable and I apologise for that, as I have apologised to them personally.”