South Tynside MPs brand Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘not fit for office’ and a 'disgrace' following publication of Sue Gray report into partygate

‘Not fit for office’ and an act of ‘betrayal’ - South Tyneside MPs react to damning findings published in the Sue Gray report which said Boris Johnson’s Government must "bear responsibility" for the culture which led to coronavirus lockdown rules being broken.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 3:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 5:08 pm

The official inquiry into the Downing Street partygate scandal was published today (May 25) and highlighted “failures of leadership and judgement” by Boris Johnson with the report identifying a series of events that “should not have been allowed to happen,".

Ms Gray reported the public would be “dismayed” by the breaches of Covid regulations which included staff carrying on drinking in No 10 until the early hours of the morning on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral and Boris Johnson joining five advisers in a "food and alcohol" event in his flat on the evening of the announcement of Dominic Cummings departure.

Other misdemenours included the use of a karaoke machine at a Cabinet Office gathering and that Mr Johnson had brought the cheese and wine from his own flat for the infamous “bring your own booze” garden gathering on May 15 2020.

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Responding to the findings, Jarrow MP Kate Osborne said: “The Prime Minister set the rules and did not follow them. He has been untruthful to MP's in the Commons and to the country, he has been fined by the police and now he has been condemned by the Sue Gray report.

“We already knew that Boris Johnson broke the law and partied through lockdown whilst families were banned from seeing their dying relatives. Now we know that 10 Downing Street hosted weekly parties - ‘Wine-Time Friday’.

“The conclusions from Sue Gray's report are damning and make clear that that a large number of individuals who attended these events breached Covid regulations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement to the House of Commons following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire

“As Prime Minister walking into any of those events he should have sent his staff home. It's not just a lack of leadership from the Prime Minister, it's a culture of partying, of arrogance and a betrayal of all the people in the Jarrow constituency who were complying with the restrictions and all those key workers who were exhausting themselves providing public services.

“He is clearly not fit for public office.”

It was a sentiment shared by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck who added: “The wine on the wall, the vomit, the altercation, the 4am exits - all happening in Downing Street whilst we were locked up at home.

“They knew that what they were doing was wrong.

“There was an absence of discipline, focus and leadership in number 10 when the country needed it the most. The Prime Minister set the culture, it happened on his watch and its indefensible.

“I have said it before and will say it again, the Tory MPs that are keeping him in power are no better. The country deserves better than this disgraceful man as Prime Minister.”

Mrs Osborne also feels the attitude shown by the Prime Minister is at the heart of what she believes is a failure to support the most vulnerable in society.

She said: “However it is not just his personal behaviour that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, it is his policies and a culture he is cultivating at the very top of one rule for them and one for the rest of us.

"He is fostering a culture of arrogance and callousness to the suffering of many that is throughout all of this Government's actions.”

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 statement to the House of Commons, where he was questioned by MPs from all sides of the House, the Prime Minister said: “I am humbled by the report and have learned a lesson. Whatever the findings of number 10 and the Cabinet office, I take full responsibility.

"I continue to believe that the civil servants and advisers in question are good hardworking people, motivated by the highest calling to do the very best for our country.”

Mr Johnson closed his statement by stressing he hoped the Government could now “move on and focus on the priorities of the British people”.