Sue Gray report reaction: what have MPs said so far - will there be a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson?

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Following the publication of Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street parties, MPs have been giving their initial reactions.

Politicians have been starting to give their responses to the findings of Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street parties which took place during lockdown.

The 12-page report, which was significantly affected by the Met Police investigation, makes clear that some of the events over the lockdowns "should not have been allowed to take place", while others "should not have been allowed to develop as they did".

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It also said there were “failures of leadership” in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.

Following the prime minister’s statement to the House of Commons, several Tory MPs have spoken out against their leader, but it remains to be seen whether enough Conservatives will trigger a vote of no confidence.

Boris Johnson is under pressure following the publication of Sue Gray’s report (Photos: Getty)Boris Johnson is under pressure following the publication of Sue Gray’s report (Photos: Getty)
Boris Johnson is under pressure following the publication of Sue Gray’s report (Photos: Getty) | Getty

What does the Sue Gray report say?

Sue Gray’s report criticised “failures of leadership and judgment” by parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office.

It said: “Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify.

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“At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.

“At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public.

“There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.”

She added that it was “not possible at present to provide a meaningful report” setting out all she discovered, due to the ongoing police investigation.

Sue Gray’s report was published online (Photo: Getty)Sue Gray’s report was published online (Photo: Getty)
Sue Gray’s report was published online (Photo: Getty) | Getty Images

How have MPs been reacting to the report?

What Conservative MPs have said:

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Tory MP Steve Baker asked the prime minister what his message is to the millions of people who “meticulously complied with all of the rules and suffered terribly for it”.

The MP for Wycombe said: “What is my right honourable friend’s central message to those people who meticulously complied with all of the rules and suffered terribly for it, including, I might say, those people whose mental health will have suffered appallingly as a result of the messages his Government was sending out?”

Boris Johnson replied: “I want to thank all those people for everything that they did, because together they helped us to control coronavirus and I think thanks to their amazing actions in coming forward to get vaccinated, we’re now in a far better position than many other countries around the world. So I have a massive debt of gratitude to all the people that he describes.”

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood tweeted: “The PM promised to publish the Sue Gray Report in full so Parliament and the British people could better appreciate the facts and draw their own conclusions. If the PM fails to publish the report in full then he will no longer have my support.”

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Tory backbencher Andrew Mitchell told the prime minister that “he no longer enjoys my support”.

The Prime Minister faced a demand from one of his backbenchers to publish the full report immediately.

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) said: “May I advise him publicly what I have said to emissaries from his campaign team privately: that it is truly in his interest, in the Government’s interest, and in the national interest that he should insist on receiving the full, unredacted report immediately, as I believe he can, and that he should then publish the uncensored version without any further delay?”

Boris Johnson replied: “I think extensive legal advice has been taken on this point and Sue Gray has published everything that she thinks she can that is consistent with that advice.”

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Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden tweeted: “Have just come from the House where the PM offered a full and frank apology with a clear plan for changes at No10. Country faces big challenges as we deal with the consequences of Covid. That’s where Govt focus must be and will be.”

The Conservative former prime minister 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 so too 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 what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?”

Mr Johnson replied: “No, Mr Speaker that is not what the Gray report says, I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.”

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Conservative Aaron Bell (Newcastle-under-Lyme) said: “It seems a lot of people attended events in May 2020 – the one I recall attending was my grandmother’s funeral. She was a wonderful woman. As well as a love for her family she served her community as a councillor and she served Dartford Conservative Association loyally for many years.

“I drove for three hours from Staffordshire to Kent, there were only 10 at the funeral, many people who loved her had to watch online.

“I didn’t hug my siblings, I didn’t hug my parents, I gave the eulogy and then afterwards I didn’t even go to her house for cup of tea. I drove back three hours from Kent to Staffordshire. Does the Prime Minister think I’m a fool?”

Mr Johnson replied: “No, and I want to thank (him) and I want to say how deeply I sympathise with him and his family for their loss, and all I can say is again that I’m very, very sorry for misjudgments that may have been made by me or anybody else in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.”

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Angela Richardson, Tory MP for Guildford has revealed that she has resigned form her post as Michael Gove’s ministerial aide over the matter.

“Sue Gray’s report published today clearly states that there were failings at Number Ten Downing Street that let us all down.

“I share the deep disappointment that it has taken so long to get to this stage when there could have been an early acknowledgement and apology.

“Last week, I stepped back from my governmental responsibilities to invest more of my time realising the campaigns that I am working on for the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.

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“In so doing, I will have more freedom to fulfil my promise to you as I hold the government to account, as a critical friend, on the issues that matter most to the people of Guildford.”In a statement posted to Facebook, she said: “

What MPs from other parties have said:

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Sue Gray report was a “farce” with “no facts”.

During his speech, Mr Blackford was also repeatedly asked by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to withdraw the word “misled”, after accusing the prime minister of having “wilfully misled Parliament”.

Mr Blackford later tweeted: “This is what truth to power looks like at Westminster. A liar is allowed to keep his place- I am forced to leave for telling the truth. He misled the house, he must go. Tories must look themselves in the mirror and ask if they can allow this to go on much longer? Remove him now.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer addressed Tory MPs directly in the Commons following the prime minister’s statement, asking them to "end this farce" by calling for a no-confidence vote in Johnson.

"The eyes of this country are upon them," he said. "They will be judged by the decisions they take now."

Sir Keir also called the prime minister a “man without shame” and said that he had “taken us all for fools”.

The Labour leader also tweeted that the prime minister “needs to do the decent thing and resign”.

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Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner told Sky News: “I think that would be terrible for the Conservative Party and MPs to try and blame civil servants when it is the Prime Minister himself that has to take responsibility here.”

She said Tory MPs should not try to “prop up the Prime Minister when they know he’s broke the law, when they know he’s acted inappropriately”.

She added: “If they choose to try and defend that, then I think what actually will happen is it will have a devastating impact on the brand of Conservatives who have always prided themselves on upholding the British principles, upholding the law of the country, and I think it will start to erode the trust and frustrate Conservative voters.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: “Everyone knows Boris Johnson broke the rules and lied to the country. It’s time Conservative MPs did their patriotic duty, listened to their constituents and stood up for decency by sacking Boris Johnson. He must go before he does our country any more harm.”

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Labour’s Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Standards Committee, tweeted: “Behaviour that is difficult to justify. A serious failure to observe high standards. Failures of leadership and judgement. Excessive consumption of alcohol in a professional workplace. Gatherings that should not of been able to take place. And that’s just the update!”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: “During this crisis, our country needed a leader more than at any time since the Second World War. We didn’t get one. This report shows what we have known all along: The Prime Minister is a coward, a rule-breaker and needs to step down.”

Labour’s Diane Abbot tweeted: “In Parliament waiting to hear Boris Johnson’s response to Sue Gray’s report. Presumably he will say that he saw nothing and heard nothing. And then he will push some hapless civil servants under the bus.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Utterly damning findings in #SueGrayReport & this from a report that's been gutted thanks to 11th hour intervention by the Met. If PM thinks #partygate scandal is now over, he's wrong. People won't forget that while they suffered, Number 10 partied & he sometimes joined in.”

Will there be a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson?

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It’s still too early to say whether there will be enough discontent among Tory MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

For this to happen, 54 Conservative MPs would need to write letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee.

Many will be waiting to see how Boris Johnson responds to the report today.

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