United Kingdom

Partygate live: Boris Johnson tells MPs he is ‘appalled’ by behaviour at lockdown parties but defends attending others

Johnson defends attending leaving dos, but says he was ‘appalled’ by what happened at events when he wasn’t there

Johnson says this is his first chance to set out the context.

Over a period of 600 days, the rules were found to have been broken on eight dates, in a building that is 5,300 ft square.

He says hundreds of people work there. And it has got larger in recent years.

He is trying to set out the context, he says, not to mitigate himself.

The exemptions include circumstances were people were leaving government. It was appropriate to thank people for leaving. He says he thinks this is an important feature of leadership. He was present at some of these; he is trying to explain why he was there.

Some of these gatherings went on late.

He says he had no knowledge of that. He was not there. He was surprised and “appalled” by what he learnt. He is particularly shocked by how security and cleaning staff were treated. (See 11.33am.) He would like to apologise to them, and the thinks his officials should apologise too.

He says his attendance at these events has been found to be acceptable.

But he says that when he said the rules were followed at all time, he was wrong.

He says Sue Gray has said she is pleased that progress has been made in addressing the points she raised her interim report.

Angela Eagle (Lab) asks why Johnson told MPs that there was no party in No 10 on 13 November 2020 when pictures have been published showing him at a leaving do.

Johnson says he believed it was a work event. He says, as he explained in his opening statement, he thought it was his duty to attend these events.

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chair of the Commons defence committee, says this is a damning report. He asks how long his colleagues are willing to defend Johnson.

This is a damning report about the absence of leadership, focus and discipline in No 10 – the one place where you expect to find those attributes in abundance. I’ve made my point and my position very clear to the prime minister: he does not have my support. But a question I humbly put to my colleagues is ‘are you willing day in and day out to defend this behaviour publicly?’

He asks Johnson is if he can name any other PM who would have tolerated this sort of behaviour.

In his response, Johnson ignores the question.

Johnson claims alleged party in Downing Street flat has been ‘extensively investigated’ and refuses to discuss it further

Catherine West (Lab) asks about the party in the Downing Street flat on 13 November 2020. Boris Johnson says he was interviewing Henry Newman for a job. What were the other advisers doing there.

Johnson says that event was extensively investigated. He says he has nothing to add.

This is not correct. As the Gray report reveals, Sue Gray did not investigate this properly. (See 11.44am.) And it has been reported that the police did not even send Johnson a questionnaire to get his account of what happened at this gathering.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminister, says Boris Johnson should take responsibility for what happened. “The fish rots from the head.”

He refers to this advert, tweeted recently by the Tory MP Steve Baker.

And Blackford urges Tory MPs to remove the PM.

Johnson rounds on ‘sanctimonious’ Labour leader, accusing ‘Sir Beer Korma’ of hypocrisy and saying he should apologise too

Boris Johnson is responding to Keir Starmer.

He says that during Covid Starmer was “sniping from the sidelines and veering from one position to the next”.

In his response today, Starmer failed to show “common sense”, he claims. He says Starmer failed to appreciate the context of what happened. He says the boundaries between work and socialisting became blurred.

He accuses Starmer of being “sanctimonious”, and he descibes him as a “gaseous Zeppelin”, saying his pomposity has been punctured.

He goes on:

Sir Beer Korma is currently failing to hold himself to the same high standards he demanded of me.

Johnson says Starmer said that Johnson should resign when he was being investigated by the police. But Starmer is being investigated by the police, and he has not resigned.

He urges Starmer to apologise

This is from Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former chief adviser, on Boris Johnson’s opening statement.

He doesn’t think he did anything wrong, as he said repeatedly in 2020 ‘Everyone better remember I’m the fucking Fuhrer around here’ #RegimeChange

— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 25, 2022

Starmer says what Johnson told MPs about the rules being followed at all times has been shown to be wrong.

Johnson seems to be proud of the fact he was only fined once, he says.

And he accuses Tory MPs of setting the hurdle for the PM’s survival at “lower than a snake’s belly”.

Starmer says he believes in leadership. The public need to know that not all politicians are the same, he says.

And he says it it now time for Tory MPs to show leadership too.

This prime minister is steering the country in the wrong direction.

Tory MPs should stop him driving the country “to disaster”.

The values symbolised by the door at No 10 need to be restored.

You cannot be a law maker and a law breaker.

Starmer says Sue Gray report is ‘monument to hubris and arrogance’ of Johnson’s government

Keir Starmer says the door of 10 Downing Street is a national symbol.

The Sue Gray report has revealed what happened, and how staff were treated. He says it is a “monument to the hubris and the arrogance of a government that believed it was one rule for them, and another rule for everyone else”.

Johnson says there have been changes at No 10. Staff have changed, and there is now a permanent secretary for the PM’s department.

He uses the line about how “we have learnt our lesson” that was briefed earlier. (See 11.24am.)

He pays tribute to the work done by his officials. And he says he thinks it is now time to move one.

His opening statement is over. It did not seem to go down particularly well in the chamber.

Johnson defends attending leaving dos, but says he was ‘appalled’ by what happened at events when he wasn’t there

Johnson says this is his first chance to set out the context.

Over a period of 600 days, the rules were found to have been broken on eight dates, in a building that is 5,300 ft square.

He says hundreds of people work there. And it has got larger in recent years.

He is trying to set out the context, he says, not to mitigate himself.

The exemptions include circumstances were people were leaving government. It was appropriate to thank people for leaving. He says he thinks this is an important feature of leadership. He was present at some of these; he is trying to explain why he was there.

Some of these gatherings went on late.

He says he had no knowledge of that. He was not there. He was surprised and “appalled” by what he learnt. He is particularly shocked by how security and cleaning staff were treated. (See 11.33am.) He would like to apologise to them, and the thinks his officials should apologise too.

He says his attendance at these events has been found to be acceptable.

But he says that when he said the rules were followed at all time, he was wrong.

He says Sue Gray has said she is pleased that progress has been made in addressing the points she raised her interim report.

Johnson’s statement to MPs on Sue Gray report

Boris Johnson starts by thanking Sue Gray for her report and renewing his apology for the short gathering in the cabinet office for which he was fined. He says he takes full responsibility for everything that occurred on his watch.

This is from Andrew Fisher, Jeremy Corbyn’s policy chief, responding to something Johnson said at PMQs a few minutes ago.

Boris Johnson at #PMQs says “Labour campaigned to put up taxes on businesses to higher than they’ve ever been in this country”

In 2019, Labour campaigned to put corporation tax to 26%. After 18 years of Conservative govt, corporation tax was 33% in 1997

Sunak has put it to 25%

— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) May 25, 2022

Christian Wakeford, who defected to Labour from the Tories, complains about Johnson drafting “half-arsed apologies”. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, appeals for moderate language.

Back at PMQs Johnson says Labour has a “lust” to raise taxes.

Back to the Sue Gray report, and this is what it says about a particularly raucous Christmas party on 18 December 2020.

An ‘awards ceremony’ took place, at around 19.45. A No 10 official sent a message to one of the WhatsApp groups at 19.49 stating ‘prize giving now guys, return’. The investigation was informed that this was an extension of the type of awards ceremony which might take place on ‘Wine Time Friday’. Those present gathered together at the meeting table in the small area outside the main Press Office. Awards certificates were handed out to staff by Jack Doyle, a senior special adviser. There were about 30 certificates prepared, although not all those awarded certificates were present. The ceremony lasted between 10-25 minutes and between 15 and 45 people were in the room during that time.

At approximately 19.45 that evening, a panic alarm button was accidentally triggered by a member of staff. The custodians on duty responded, as did one of the police officers on No 10 door duty. They observed a large number of people in the area outside of the main Press Office and one individual giving a speech. Inside the Press Office a further 15-20 people were present.

There was food and alcohol available which had been bought and brought in by staff. Some members of staff drank excessively. The event was crowded and noisy 32 such that some people working elsewhere in the No 10 building that evening heard significant levels of noise coming from what they characterised as a ‘party’ in the Press Office. A cleaner who attended the room the next morning noted that there had been red wine spilled on one wall and on a number of boxes of photocopier paper.

The event lasted for several hours, with varying levels of attendance throughout, including because officials left to attend official meetings. Attendance peaked during the awards ceremony. No 10 exit logs show a number of members of staff remaining in the office until after midnight.

Andy Mcdonald (Lab) asks how the PM sleeps at night “with so much blood on his filthy, privileged hands”.

Johnson says the government prioritised helping people during the pandemic. And it will continue with a high wage, high skills, high employment economy, he says.

Back at PMQs William Wragg (Con), chair of the public administrative and constitutional affairs commtitee, says Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, was banned from giving evidence to his committee this week. Saying he may be a cynic, he asks what topic was the PM worried about Case being asked about.

Johnson says Wragg is not a cynic but an idealist. He says he will ensure that the officials give evidence.

More pictures from the Sue Gray report have dropped on our picture wires. Here’s a selection:

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are seen in the cabinet room in 10 Downing Street during Johnson’s birthday. Photograph: Sue Gray Report/GOV.UK/Reuters
Boris Johnson, right, and Simon Case.
Boris Johnson, right, and Simon Case. Photograph: Sue Gray Report/GOV.UK/Reuters
Boris Johnson seen raising a glass during a Downing Street leaving do with adviser Lee Cain.
Boris Johnson seen raising a glass during a Downing Street leaving do with adviser Lee Cain. Photograph: Sue Gray Report/GOV.UK/Reuters

Here’s our gallery of pictures from the report:

And here is a summary of the most damning elements in the Sue Gray report from the Times’ Steven Swinford.

The worst of Gray report:

* Excessive drinking, staff being sick

* Partying until 4.35am on eve of Prince Phillip’s funeral

* Red wine on walls

* Abuse of cleaning staff & security staff

* Warnings about parties ignored

* Martin Reynolds: ‘We seem to have got away with it’

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) May 25, 2022




Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button