Sunderland MPs brand Prime Minister Boris Johnson a ‘disgrace’ and call for him to go after damning findings of Sue Gray report

‘Treated with contempt’ – Sunderland MPs have called for the Prime Minister to resign after the publication of the damning findings of the Sue Gray report said the Government must "bear responsibility" for the culture which led to coronavirus lockdown rules being broken.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 2:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:50 pm

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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 publication, Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said: "It is now abundantly clear that the Prime Minister lied to the British people and misled Parliament. Sue Gray’s report lays bare the utter contempt with which Boris Johnson and his Government treated the sacrifices of the British people. The buck stops with him.”

It was a sentiment shared by Sunderland Central MP, Julie Elliott, who added: “The Sue Gray report proves that Boris Johnson presided over party after party at Downing Street whilst the rest of the country stuck by the rules and made untold sacrifices to keep each other safe.

“They were told to follow the rules the Government set, but Boris Johnson decided that he did not have to abide by them himself.

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

“It’s a disgrace. It shows a total lack of respect for those who suffered during the pandemic. It is one rule for us, and one rule for them.

Both MPs went on to call for the Prime Minister to go.

Mrs Phillipson said: “Now, in the middle of the cost of living crisis, the Prime Minister is more focused on saving his own skin that helping people in our community. Britain deserves better. The Prime Minister must go."

Mrs Elliott added: “This country deserves better. Boris Johnson must resign.”

Leader of Suderland Conservatives, Cllr Antony Mullen, has also condemned Boris Johnson’s actions and feels the party needs a new leader.

He said: "The political and civil service leadership of our country has failed to follow the rules it asked the rest of us to observe.”

Cllr Mullen has also called for leading civil servant Martin Reynolds to be "sacked immediately" and said "it is in the best interests of our country" if neither Mr Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer - himself subject to an ongoing 'beergate' probe - should lead their respective parties into the next General Election, accusing both of damaging trust in political institutions.

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”.