‘You’re fooling nobody PM, it’s time to leave’ – MP calls for Boris Johnson to quit over Sue Gray report findings

Stirling’s MP has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to remove as he faces mounting pressure after the publication of a report into lockdown breaking parties at Downing Street were deemed to be “difficult to justify”.

The initial findings of the Sue Gray report into a series of boozy parties at Downing Street were published on Monday, in which she found that there were “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.

Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith this week told the Stirling Observer: “The Prime Minister can duck and dive but he’s fooling nobody. He should go precisely because he’s a distraction from the many issues and policies his government continues to inflict on the people of Stirling.”

Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith

In her report, Ms Gray found that: ‘Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behavior surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify.

‘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.

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‘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.

‘The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.

‘The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street. During the pandemic it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a more Covid secure means of holding group meetings in a ventilated space. This was a sensitive measure that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorization or oversight. This was not appropriate. Any official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.

‘Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviors they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so. No member of staff should feel unable to report or challenge poor conduct where they witness it. There should be easier ways for staff to raise such concerns informally, outside of the line management chain.

‘The number of staff working in No 10 Downing Street has steadily increased in recent years. In terms of size, scale and range of responsibility it is now more akin to a small Government Department than purely a dedicated Prime Minister’s office. The structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion. The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability. Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose main function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be addressed as a matter of priority.’

In her conclusion, she said that a “number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did. 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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson later addressed Ministers in the House of Commons where he made a statement on the report’s findings.

Mr Johnson issued an apology “for the things we simply did not get right and sorry for the way that this matter has been handled”.

He continued: “This pandemic was hard for everyone. We asked people across this country to make the most extraordinary sacrifices, not to meet loved ones, not to visit relatives before they died, and I understand the anger that people feel.

“It is not enough to say sorry. This is a moment when we must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn. And while the Metropolitan Police must yet complete their investigation – and that means there are no details of specific events in Sue Gray’s report – 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.”

The Prime Minister vowed to address the problem highlighted within leadership at Downing Street by creating an Office of the Prime Minister, with a Permanent Secretary to lead Number ten. He also promised to further outline steps to improve the Number ten “operation and the work of the Cabinet Office to strengthen Cabinet Government and to improve the vital connection between Number ten and parliament”.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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