MPs offer different messages in wake of interim Partygate report

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report. - Credit: PA

Both the district's MPs have acknowledged failures of judgement and leadership in Number 10 following the publication of Sue Gray's interim report into breaches of lockdown restrictions.

The 12-page document was a partial report of her investigation into Downing Street and Whitehall parties - much was held back at the request of the Metropolitan police after an investigation was launched into potential breaches of COVID regulations. 

It did state that 16 events fell within her investigation's remit and 12 of those are now being investigated by the Met police.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami said once the police have completed their investigation, the report should be "published in full", but St Albans representative Daisy Cooper wants action now.

Mr Afolami said: “Sue Gray’s report makes clear that there were failures of judgement and leadership in Number 10 during the pandemic at times when families across the country faced significant hardships.

"Disappointingly due to the ongoing police investigation, Sue Gray has not been able to publish the entirety of her report and we must wait for the police to complete their investigations before the full findings can be known. Once that investigation is complete, that report should be published in full – no ifs and no buts. 

"However the update she has given makes clear that broader changes need to be made in the Downing Street operation irrespective of any further investigations and the Prime Minister has promised to implement these changes in full with oversight from a new Prime Ministerial Department, proper reporting lines and appropriate structures and personnel. I will carefully study the detail of these proposals as they emerge.”

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But St Albans MP Daisy Cooper was more damning: “The update from Sue Gray into 'Partygate' was incredibly limited yet still found Boris Johnson and his No 10 team guilty of a failure of leadership and judgment. At any other time, with any other Prime Minister, this would be enough for them to resign.  

“The Met are now investigating 12 of the 16 No 10 parties, including one in the Prime Minister’s flat, one in the Prime Minister’s garden and one for the Prime Minister’s birthday.

"Here in St Albans, people followed the rules and many made enormous sacrifices - sometimes unable to be with loved ones when they were dying or being laid to rest.

“People are upset, angry and frustrated, and this groundhog day of new revelations and fake apologies is only making matters worse.

“Seeing Conservative MPs from across Hertfordshire defend the PM, disingenuously call for the Gray report to be published after the PM reluctantly agreed to do that, or just hide in silence just adds insult to injury.

“Liberal Democrats won’t let these feeble responses go unnoticed by their constituents.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the report in the Commons on Monday, saying: “Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.

“We are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run so that we can get on with the job that I was elected to do and the job that this Government was elected to do."

Concluding his statement on the report, Boris Johnson added: “I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.”

Ms Cooper was one of the MPs who addressed the Prime Minister after his statement.

She said: "The PM refers to the Sue Gray report but if he read as far as the front cover he would see its called an update."

She asked about the Met investigation and the importance of public trust and asked: "Can the PM confirm that not at any stage anybody in Number 10 or cabinet office sought to influence the Met's decision or was the delay a result of its own incompetence?"

The PM replied: "No, the only people calling into question the Met's independence is those on the opposite benches."