London politics latest LIVE: Boris Johnson faces new call to quit as PM meets Tory backbenchers over Sue Gray report

·62 min read
London politics latest LIVE: Boris Johnson faces new call to quit as PM meets Tory backbenchers over Sue Gray report

Boris Johnson faced fresh calls to quit on Wednesday evening as the fallout from the release of Sue Gray’s report into lockdown law-breaking at the heart of Government intensified.

Pressure was piled on the Prime Minister as Tory MP Julian Sturdy released a statement saying he felt “it is now in the public interest” for Mr Johnson to resign.

It came as the PM was meeting with Tory backbench MPs after insisting he should remain in office despite acknowledging public anger at the “bitter and painful” conclusions of Sue Gray inquiry.

Speaking at a press conference in the afternoon, the Prime Minister said it “did not occur” to him or senior government officials that Covid rules were being breached in Downing Street during lockdown.

The Gray report, released this morning, includes details of 16 boozy events across Whitehall and in Downing Street in breach of Covid laws. Mr Johnson said much of the content of the report was “news to me”.

It shows photographs from Lee Cain’s lockdown leaving party in November 2020 at which the Prime Minister gave a toast in front of a table strewn with half empty alcohol bottles.

Quizzed on why he had consistently told MPs and the public that he believed “no rules were broken” at the heart of Government, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve tried to explain the context of why I was at other events where I was saying farewell to valued colleagues.

“I know that some people will think it was wrong to even do that. I have to say I respectfully disagree, I think it was right.

“When people who were working very hard, for very long hours, when they are giving up a huge amount to serve their country and they are moving on to some other part of government or leaving government service altogether, I think it is right to thank them.”

PM ‘not apologising’ to Queen over party held on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

20:34 , Michael Howie

Boris Johnson wasn’t expected to be apologising to the Queen during their audience on Wednesday, despite Sue Gray’s findings on the party held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

Asked if the PM will be apologising to the Queen during their call, a Tory party source said: “What does he need to apologise to the Queen for?

“We all know he wasn’t anywhere near ... he was 50 miles away from the gathering that had happened on the eve of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.”

The source said it would be a “very odd thing” to be apologising on the eve of the Queen’s Jubilee.

“You can expect him to be far more positive and focused on the Queen than apologising for something he wasn't even at,” the source said.

Boris apologised to Tory backbenchers over ‘very sobering’ Partygate scandal

19:17 , Matt Watts

Speaking to Tory MPs at a meeting of the 1922 backbench committee, Mr Johnson apologised for the partygate furore, saying it had been pretty “excruciating”.

He described it as like having a “mirror held up” to the workings of Government and No10 which was “very sobering,” according to a party source.

Striking a “solemn” tone, the Prime Minister added: “We got things wrong, I got things wrong, I’m ultimately responsible.”

He stressed he was “particularly disgusted” that some No10 staff had been rude to Downing Street cleaners and custodians.

Mr Johnson apologised on Wednesday to individuals who were subjected to this abuse.

At times the “mirror was distorted”, he added, as media reports did not fully portray the hard work being carried out by No10 and other Government staff.

Seeking to rebuild trust with his MPs and the public, he also emphasised that the Government was continuing to “pound down the track” of delivering on its key aims including on levelling-up and easing the cost-of-living crisis.

He later headed off for an audience with the Queen.

There were few if any dissenting voices at the meeting, but many of his critics are believed to have stayed away.

PM ‘to speak to Queen about Sue Gray findings’

18:54 , Matt Watts

The Prime Minister was due to have “an audience with the Queen” on Wednesday evening following the publication of the Sue Gray partygate investigation, according to a Conservative Party source.

The source said the meeting was “not in the flesh”.

PM ‘dismisses idea of alcohol ban at No 10’

18:53 , Matt Watts

Boris Johnson has dismissed the idea of an alcohol ban in No 10 in the wake of the damning findings of the Sue Gray inquiry.

After the Prime Minister was asked about the suggestion during a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, a party source said: “He made the point he’s not a big drinker himself but had alcohol been banned in 1940 we might not have won the Second World War.

“The fact about No 10 is there is an alcohol policy that now sets guidelines to its use.”

He argued it would be wrong to ban alcohol at events with foreign dignitaries, charities and other guests.

He added: “there’s a recognition that at the end of a really long, hard day .. the remedy for decompressing … is to have a glass of wine or a beer.

“So, there’s recognition that part of decompressing at the end of a long day involves having a drink, but not checking out at 4am absolutely legless, having been rude to a member of staff, having thrown up over a sofa.”

Rishi Sunak to announce windfall tax to help cost of living crisis

18:52 , Barney Davis

Rishi Sunak will set out a package of support to address the soaring cost of living on Thursday.

The Chancellor is expected to unveil his plan as the Government seeks to draw a line under the partygate row and focus on the squeeze in living standards caused by soaring inflation.

A windfall tax on oil and gas giants, who have benefited from globally high prices, is widely expected to help fund measures which will be targeted at the most vulnerable.

A Treasury spokesman said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, which is why we’ve provided £22 billion of support to date.

“The Chancellor was clear that as the situation evolves, so will our response, with the most vulnerable being his number one priority.

“He will set out more details tomorrow.”

Boris wanted to emphasise to Tory MPs ‘No 10 was not like a Saturday night in July in Ibiza’

18:46 , Matt Watts

Boris Johnson had been keen to emphasise that No 10 was not like a “Saturday night in July in Ibiza”, according to a Conservative Party source.

A party source in the room during Boris Johnson’s meeting with the 1922 Committee in the House of Commons said the Prime Minister told Tory MPs he had found the publication of the Sue Gray report “pretty excruciating” and described it as like “having a mirror held up to the workings of Government and No 10, which is always very sobering”.

The source continued: “At times, the mirror was distorted.”

Asked what Mr Johnson had meant by the comment, the party source replied: “He was trying to say that the whole picture is not this idea that the general public may have of the last few months, that people were in No 10 partying as if it was a Saturday night in July in Ibiza.

“They were actually working extremely hard.”

The source said the Prime Minister hoped Ms Gray’s report “set the record straight” and that “not all of No 10 was having a rave” during the Covid pandemic.

A slightly different take on Boris Johnson’s apology from a 1922 Committee MP

18:23 , Barney Davis

ITV’s Paul Brand reports that Boris Johnson’s apology to backbench MPs seemed insincere and made the 1922 Committee “clowns at the Prime Minister’s circus”.

Tory Sir Robert Goodwill chosen to replace porn MP Neil Parish

18:02 , Anthony France

A Conservative former minister has emerged victorious in the race to chair the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Sir Robert Goodwill, who is also a working farmer, secured top spot and replaces former party colleague Neil Parish, who quit his Tiverton and Honiton seat after he admitted watching pornography in Parliament.

Boris Johnson says sorry to Tory MPs at 1922 meeting

17:52 , Anthony France

Boris Johnson apologised directly to Tory MPs and told them their work is now regaining public trust after the partygate scandal, a Conservative colleague said.

Speaking outside the 1922 Committee meeting, Jonathan Gullis said the Prime Minister had been “extremely apologetic” and had faced no dissenting voices so far.

Asked what the Prime Minister’s main message was, Mr Gullis told reporters: “Key message is that he’s sorry and we’ve got to win back the trust of the country.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid: ‘Let’s move on from partygate'

17:32 , Anthony France

Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “People are understandably very angry about the poor behaviour set out in Sue Gray’s report.

“The PM has apologised and taken full responsibility for all that happened. Changes have already been made. Now let’s get on with tackling the big challenges ahead.”

17:25 , Anthony France

Tory backbencher Julian Sturdy MP calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wades into partygate political row

17:21 , Anthony France

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said “we need to rediscover” good standards in public life, following the publication of Sue Gray’s report on partygate.

The archbishop said: “Sue Gray’s report shows that culture, behaviour and standards in public life really matter.

“We need to be able to trust our national institutions, particularly in times of great trouble.

“Jesus commands us to serve the most vulnerable and those in need. To help achieve this, we must recover the principles of mutual flourishing and the common good in the way we are governed.

“Standards in public life are the glue that holds us together – we need to rediscover them and abide by them.”

PM met by customary banging of tables at 1922 meeting

17:13 , Anthony France

Boris Johnson was met by the customary banging of tables as he arrived at the meeting of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives in Parliament.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said if the Privileges Committee found Prime Minister Boris Johnson had intentionally misled the House of Commons, there was an “expectation” he would have to stand down.

Mr Ross said: “If they reach a conclusion that the Prime Minister deliberately and intentionally went to the House of Commons to mislead people, then the ministerial code is actually very clear. The expectation is that the Prime Minister or any minister should stand down.”

Boris Johnson to face backbench MPs in 1922 Committee meeting

17:00 , Barney Davis

Reports are expecting the Prime Minister to meet backbench MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee at 5pm.

In December 2018 Theresa May survived a vote of no confidence but indicated to the 1922 Committee the following March that she would stand down as party leader, which she eventually did in June 2019.

Boris Johnson has said he “overwhelmingly” believes he should remain in office despite public anger at the “bitter and painful” conclusions of the inquiry into raucous parties in No 10 during lockdown restrictions.

The Prime Minister recognised people are “indignant” over the damning findings of Sue Gray’s report into law-breaking at the heart of Government but defied fresh calls to resign.

Covid victim’s family call on ‘selfish’ PM to resign

16:58 , Barney Davis

The grief-stricken daughter of a Covid victim has said she believes “selfish” Boris Johnson must resign after “raucous and savage behaviour” in Westminster during the pandemic was laid bare in Sue Gray’s report.

Safiah Ngah, 29, wept as she recalled how restrictions in place last February meant she was denied a final goodbye in person with her father, Zahari Ngah, before he died.

Ms Ngah said her 68-year-old father, a retired NHS worker, would have been “scared” and vulnerable without his family in hospital during his last days.

 (PA)
(PA)

The family had to settle for a video call as their last contact with him – meanwhile Government officials were “cheers-ing”, partying and joking about getting away with it, she said.

She told the PA news agency: “It’s disgusting. It makes me embarrassed to be British.

“The Government is completely out of touch with what real people are experiencing and it’s unsurprising. They’re obviously a group of very privileged people with limited experience.”

Sue Gray halted probe into Winner Takes It All event with ‘food and alcohol’ in Downing Street flat

16:54 , Barney Davis

Sue Gray abandoned her investigation into the “Abba party” held in Boris Johnson’s flat despite finding that alcohol was present on the evening Dominic Cummings was forced out of Downing Street.

The senior civil servant found that the Prime Minister did attend the mid-lockdown gathering along with five special advisers but halted her work having only collected “limited” information when the Metropolitan Police began their investigation.

There was no mention in her report of The Winner Takes It All and other Abba songs reportedly heard blaring from the Downing Street residence after the departure of Mr Cummings as chief adviser was announced following a bitter power struggle.

Old Kent Road restaurant owner fined for leaving do

16:52 , Barney Davis

Our Courts correspondent Tristan Kirk points out the flaws in Boris Johnson’s excuse that he wanted to thank people who were leaving Downing Street.

Mr Johnson had offered a few “points of context” in relation to his presence at the gatherings in Downing Street.

“I want to offer a few points of context. No10 is the HQ of the government. Because officials here support the prime minister the regulations allowed them to continue attending work purposes throughout lockdowns.

“When they were leaving their jobs, I briefly attended gatherings to thank them.”

PM declines to comment on officials named in Gray report

16:14 , Daniel Keane

The prime minister has declined to comment on the conduct of officials named in Sue Gray's report, in particular Martin Reynolds boasting about the bring your own booze party.

Mr Johnson told a press conference: "I don't want to comment on individuals who are named in the report. I don't think it's right for politicians to talk about officials in that way."

He then appeared to say that he was not aware of the May 20 event being arranged by Mr Reynolds and his subsequent reference to "getting away with it".

Ms Gray's report says Mr Johnson appeared at the garden event for 30 minutes at 6pm to "thank staff" before heading into a meeting with Mr Reynolds. He did not return, she added.

"So I want to be clear, I didn't know that," he said.

"For instance, a lot of the stuff that I saw in the report this morning was news to me. But I think it's important that everybody who has and everybody who hasn't been there, everybody who's in any way involved in this whole sorry business, has got to learn the lessons, and that applies to everybody in the report."

PM: I only saw the report this morning

15:59 , Daniel Keane

Mr Johnson has denied that he saw the Sue Gray report before it was published this morning.

He says his team only saw the report at 10am.

On allegations that he held a flat party in Downing Street in November 2020, which was not named in the Gray report, he said the meeing was a “work event”.

PM: I genuinely didn’t think I was breaking the rules

15:54 , Daniel Keane

ITV’s Paul Brand asks the PM whether he is a liar.

He responds: “Look at what I said to parliament and look at what Sue has said.

“It didn’t occur to me or them that it was a breach of the rules.”

‘Why are only you allowed to answer back’, PM snaps at Sky reporter

15:51 , Daniel Keane

Asked by Sky News’ Beth Rigby whether he has considered resigning, Mr Johnson says: “Of course I understand why people are indignant, why people have been angry at what took place.

“All I can say is that given everything going on right now, it’s my job to serve people in this country.

He mentions the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis as reasons for him not to resign.

“It’s my job to get on.”

After Beth Rigby repeats her question, he retorts: “Why are only you allowed to come back Beth?”

He then apologises and answers her question, saying: “I’ve got to keep moving forward and we are.”

Sunak reiterates apology for fine

15:46 , Daniel Keane

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has repeated his apology over his fine for attending a birthday gathering for Boris Johnson during lockdown but said he wanted to “move forward”.

He tweeted: “I’m grateful to Sue Gray for her report and I sincerely repeat my apologies for the event I received a fine for.

“The Prime Minister has apologised and lessons have been learned. I hope we can now move forward and continue delivering for the British people.”

‘Much of what I saw in the Gray report was news to me,’ says PM

15:44 , Daniel Keane

Mr Johnson denies that he knew of much of the behaviour described in Sue Gray’s report.

“A lot of the stuff I saw in the report this morning was news to me,” he says.

PM: Rudeness to cleaning staff in No10 ‘utterly intolerable'

15:41 , Daniel Keane

Asked whether he tried to interfere with the publication of Sue Gray’s report, he says: “No one reading that report could say that anything has been swept under the carpet.”

On the behaviour of staff, he says: “I don’t know who is guilty for this, but in the course of my apologies today I began to make ineuiqires but I will continue these.

“It’s utterly intolerable. At the very least they should apologise.”

PM: I disagree that I did anything wrong

15:38 , Daniel Keane

Mr Johnson is asked by the BBC’s Chris Mason how he would respond to viewers questioning his integrity.

He says he has “clearly explained” how the gatherings in Downing Street for staff came about.

He adds: “Some people will think it was wrong even to do that. I respectfully disagree. When people are working long hours and moving on to another part of government I think it is right ot thank them.

“I repeat what I said in the Commons earlier on: I believe they were work events.”

PM: I briefly attended gatherings for staff when they left Downing St

15:35 , Daniel Keane

Mr Johnson offers a few “points of context” in relation to his presence at the gatherings in Downing Street.

“I want to offer a few points of context. No10 is the HQ of the government. Because officials here support the prime minister the regulations allowed them to continue attending work purposes throughout lockdowns.

“When they were leaving their jobs, I briefly attended gatherings to thank them.”

He says that “recognising achievement” and keeping up “high morale” is important to him.

PM apologises for birthday party

15:34 , Daniel Keane

The PM has begun his address to the public.

He says: “I’m humbled by what happened and I repeat my apology for my birthday party in the cabinet room for which I received an FPN.”

PM to address nation imminently

15:28 , Daniel Keane

We are expecting the prime minister to address the country at a press conference at 3.30pm.

We’ll have all the latest here.

The PM’s birthday on June 19, 2020

15:19 , Elly Blake

June 19, 2020 - A gathering was organised in the Cabinet Room in No 10 to mark Boris Johnson’s birthday.

At the time, Covid-19 regulations dictated that gatherings of two or more people indoors and more than six outdoors were prohibited, but an an exception was for “reasonably necessary” work purposes.

During the gathering, which lasted around 20 minutes, food, alcohol and soft drinks were provided, having been organised in advance that morning.

An email was sent around to a number of No 10 staff in the morning to let them know sandwiches and cake were in the Cabinet Room if people wanted to “come along and wish the PM happy birthday”.

Sue Gray’s report found: “The event The Prime Minister was not aware of this event in advance and it did not form part of his official diary for the day. He returned from an external visit to No 10 Downing Street at approximately 14.20 and was taken into the Cabinet Room which had been set up with sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks and cans of beer.”

Cabinet Room on June 19, 2020 (via REUTERS)
Cabinet Room on June 19, 2020 (via REUTERS)

The leaving do where there was a ‘minor altercation’ on June 18, 2020

15:12 , Elly Blake

A party to mark the departure of a No 10 official took place on June 18, 2020.

At first, around 25 people gathered for the first formal part of the leaving event, with speeches taking place in the Cabinet Room.

At around 7.40pm, some people left the event and others moved to the Waiting Room area outside the Cabinet Secretary.

Mark Reynolds was among those present, Sue Gray found.

Some brought pizza and prosecco and they were followed by others, over the next couple of hours.

Helen MacNamara, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine which was set up in an adjoining office to the waiting room.

The report found: "The event lasted for a number of hours. There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals."

The event broke up in stages with a few members of staff leaving from around 9pm and the last member of staff, who stayed to tidy up, leaving at 3.13pm.

The ‘bring your own booze’ event on May 20, 2020

15:06 , Elly Blake

May, 20 2020: Sue Gray’s verdict on the ‘bring your own booze’ event in the No 10 garden.

On that day around 200 staff were invited by Martin Reynolds to “socially distanced drinks” in the No 10 garden to “make the most of this lovely weather”.

The investigation was told that the event was for the purposes of boosting staff morale following a challenging period for staff.

One No 10 special adviser sent a message to Martin to flag that a press conference would be finishing around that time so “if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc”.

Email from Martin Reynolds (Sue Gray report screenshot)
Email from Martin Reynolds (Sue Gray report screenshot)

Martin Reynolds replied “Will do my best!….”

Meanwhile, a No 10 Director declined the invitation and told the investigation that they had raised with either Martin Reynolds or his office that it was not a good idea and former director of communications Lee Cain said the event was “somewhat of a comms risk”.

Sue Gray found: “It was an event planned in advance by officials and attended by a significant number of people. However, concerns were expressed about whether it was appropriate to hold the event.”

What happened on May 15, 2020?

14:58 , Elly Blake

Let's take a look at each of the events in Sue Gray's report in a bit more detail.

May 15, 2020: A number of groups gathered in the No 10 garden, two days after some Covid restrictions were relaxed to allow meetings outdoors for exercise or recreation with one person from another household.

At this time, social distancing guidance of two-metres was in place. Leaving home or being outside without a reasonable excuse continued to be prohibited.

A photograph of the groups with wine and cheese in the garden was published in the Guardian.

The event consisted of a number of separate meetings, including one between the prime minister, his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and his former adviser Dominic Cummings, who were having a "lengthy meeting" in an office but went outside to the garden.

They were then joined by his Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson “during which time the photograph was taken”, the report said.

Sue Gray found: "As explained by those interviewed as part of the investigation, this gathering was actually a number of separate meetings.

"There is no reason to suggest that this was anything other than a further work meeting."

Rishi Sunak to give statement on Thursday

14:43 , Elly Blake

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to deliver a statement on the economy amid the cost of living crisis on Thursday.

It comes as No 10 tries to move on from partygate and the publication of Sue Gray’s report.

Cabinet ministers show their support to the PM

14:41 , Elly Blake

Since Boris Johnson has given his statement in the House of Commons following the publication of Sue Gray’s report, a number of Cabinet ministers have tweeted their support for the Prime Minister.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: “The prime minister has apologised and taken responsibility for the mistakes that have been made.

“I back him 100% - we now need to drive our economy forward post-COVID and ensure Putin loses in Ukraine.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The PM has apologised and is implementing all Sue Gray’s recommendations.

“Now we need to get on and deliver for the British people - growing our economy to tackle the cost of living, funding the NHS to clear COVID backlogs and cutting crime to make our streets safer.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries posted: “The PM has made a full and unreserved apology. The public now want us to get on and deliver - dealing with the war in Ukraine, helping with the global rising cost of living which has resulted from the war and post pandemic.”

She added: “The Met has concluded its investigation. Sue Gray has published her report. Lessons have and are being learnt and it is time to move on, focus and keep on delivering.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis tweeted: “The Met investigation has concluded and Sue Gray has completed and published her report.

“The PM has apologised unreservedly and is already implementing her recommendations for change.

“ We must now get on and deliver for the British public, as they rightly expect.”

Sadiq Khan says report shows ‘abject failure of leadership’ in No 10

14:28 , Elly Blake

Sadiq Khan, who has asked the Metropolitan Police to explain the force's decisions over partygate, said the Sue Gray report revealed an "abject failure of leadership" in Downing Street.

He said: "The findings of the Sue Gray report today confirm what many of us had long suspected - the abject failure of leadership and judgment at the heart of Government.

"At a time when millions of Londoners were being asked to make huge sacrifices - to stay away from loved ones and forgo funerals - No 10 and the cabinet office consistently and flagrantly held the public, and the rules they had been told to follow, in contempt.

"The British public deserve better and the PM should now demonstrate accountability for this culture of impunity which took place on his own doorstep and under his own roof."

Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan (PA Wire)

MP who defected from Conservatives: ‘How many more will join me?’

14:09 , Josh Salisbury

A Labour MP who crossed the floor to defect from the Conservatives has asked Boris Johnson whether he thinks more defections will rock the Conservatives after Sue Gray’s report.

Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, challenged his former colleagues over the events in Gray’s reports, telling the Commons: “How can anyone describe these as work events?”

He asked: “While he’s busy trying to defend the indefensible, I’d like to know how many of my former colleagues will be joining me on these benches after today.”

Mr Johnson replied: “The honourable gentleman will find the answer to these questions in the Sue Gray report, I really don’t have anything more to add.”

Mr Wakeford joined Labour from the Tories in January, the first sitting MP to do so since 2007.

Boris Johnson: Cleaners will get ‘proper apology' for Partygate abuse

13:55 , Josh Salisbury

Boris Johnson has said he will make sure cleaners and security staff at No 10 are properly apologised to for being treated with a lack of respect during Partygate.

Sue Gray’s report found “multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff” while events were taking place.

Asked by Labour MP Alison McGovern (Wirral South) asked if Mr Johnson had personally apologised to those cleaners and security staff, the Prime Minister replied: "This is the first I've seen of the detailed criticisms of civil servants for that abuse.

“I've said I think it's intolerable and I'll make sure staff, custodians, cleaners who were treated disrespectfully get a proper apology, I've apologised to them today already from this despatch box."

Johnson denies allegation he asked Gray to drop report

13:47 , Josh Salisbury

Asked again by Labour’s Bristol South MP Karyn Smith whether he asked Sue Gray to drop her report, Mr Johnson replied: “No. This is a wholly indepdent report and the judgements contained in it are a matter for Sue Gray.

“I’m grateful to her for what she has done and I think her interim report was extremely useful to the government in making the changes we have”.

Mr Johnson had previously been asked in the Commons by Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Conservative MP, Aaron Bell about the allegation, but did not issue an emphatic denial.

MP speaks of ‘lovely grandmother’ dying alone during Partygate

13:40 , Josh Salisbury

A Labour MP has spoken emotionally about having let his "lovely grandmother" die alone in hospital during Partygate while questioning Boris Johnson over the Gray report.

Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said: "I feel as if I have completely let down those who showered me with so much love. Why wasn't I by the bedside of my lovely grandmother during her final few days? Why did I let her die alone in that hospital?

"Why did I not attend the funeral of my uncle because of worries about Government restrictions on numbers? Why did I not go to comfort my brother-in-law's father as he was dying in a Slough care home?

"With all of this context, it is utterly hypocritical for those individuals who were preaching to us ad nauseam about patriotism, the flag and the Queen, for those very people to then be having late night parties including two on the night before the Queen had to sit all alone during her husband's funeral when the country was in a state of national mourning. Absolutely shameless.”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle cut off the MP and told him it was not normal to "bring the monarch into proceedings".

Boris Johnson replied: "I am very sorry for his loss and he has a perfect right to speak with the passion that he does. All I can say is that I take full responsibility for what happened, I do, and we have made extensive changes"

Boris Johnson declines to deny he asked Gray to drop report

13:37 , Josh Salisbury

Boris Johnson has declined to deny an allegation that he asked Sue Gray to drop her investigation into Partygate.

According to The Times newspaper, Mr Johnson suggested in a meeting with the senior civil servant that she did not need to publish the full report after the Met Police concluded its investigation.

Asked by Conservative MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Aaron Bell, whether there was any truth to the report, Mr Johnson replied: “What Sue Gray has published is entirely for Sue Gray. It is a wholly independent report.”

A Downing St spokesperson has previously denied Mr Johnson asked Gray to drop the report, insisting the pair only discussed “process” at a meeting.

Boris Johnson set to hold press conference at 3.30pm

13:25 , Elly Blake

The prime minister is expected to hold a Downing Street press conference at 3:30pm.

Boris Johnson will address the public following the findings of the report and also take questions from journalists.

‘Sir Beer Korma failing to hold himself to same high standards he demanded of me’, says PM

13:21 , Elly Blake

Sir Keir Starmer is failing to hold himself to the same “high standards” that he “demanded of me”, the Prime Minister has said.

Responding to the Labour leader, Boris Johnson told the Commons: “After months of his, frankly, sanctimonious obsession, the great gaseous Zeppelin of his pomposity has been permanently punctured and irretrievably by the revelation that he is himself, he didn’t mention this, he is himself under investigation by the police.

“And yet, I am not going to mince my words, I am going to say this.

“Sir Beer Korma is currently failing to hold himself to the same high standards that he demanded of me. He called for me to resign when the when the investigation began. Why is he in his place?”

Mr Johnson added: “He is still there and so is the shadow deputy leader. I apologised when the revelations emerged. I continue to apologise, I repeat that I am humbled by what has happened and we instituted profound changes throughout Number 10.

“But I think in view of the mess that he has found himself in, it would now be a sensible thing for him too to apologise so that we can all collectively move on. That I think is what the people of this country want to see above all.”

Former housing secretary Robert Jenrick: This should not be a ‘stain’ on civil service’s reputation

13:18 , Elly Blake

Former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has said Sue Gray’s report should not be “a stain” on the reputation of the civil service.

“With the challenges that the country faces, is it not really true that it is now time to turn a page?” he asked.

Boris Johnson responded: “I agree with him absolutely.”

Tobias Ellwood: This is a damning report about the absence of leadership and focus in No 10

13:12 , Elly Blake

Conservative MP and Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood has described Sue Gray’s findings as a “a damning report about the absence of leadership and focus in No 10”.

He said: “I’ve made my point and my position very clear to the Prime Minister: he does not have my support.”

Then throwing the question out to his colleagues, he asked other Tory MPs: “Are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behaviour publicly?

“Can we continue to govern without distraction?

“Can we win the General Election on this current trajectory?”

“But my question to the Prime Minister is very clear, on the question of leadership: can he think of any other prime minister who’d have allowed such a culture of indiscipline to take place under their watch and if it did would they not have resigned?”

Boris Johnson, in his reply, said: “I think the answer is overwhelmingly and emphatically yes, we are going to go on and win the next general election because we’re going to get on with the job.”

I take full responsibility for what happened: Boris Johnson

13:09 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson has repeated that he takes “full responsibility” for what happened, and he has been “humbled” by the whole investigation.

He also thanked Sue Gray for carrying out her report.

‘A fish rots from the head’ says Ian Blackford

13:07 , Elly Blake

SNP Westminster leader Sir Ian Blackford has called on Boris Johnson to resign.

He said Boris Johnson had adopted a “sinister pattern of evasion” throughout the Sue Gray investigation and that he was devoid of honesty and ethics.

“He can shake his head, but that’s the reality”, he said.

Not mincing his words, Mr Blackford added: “The Prime Minister brings shame on the office”.

Boris Johnson: People want us to say thank you to Sue Gray and move on

13:02 , Elly Blake

The prime minister accused Sir Keir Starmer was “sniping from the sidelines” during the pandemic.

“Today, Mr Speaker he has done it again”.

Boris Johnson then said the Labour leader “could have shown some common sense and recognised that when people are working very hard together day in, day out, it can be difficult to draw the boundary between work and socialising”.

He added: “He is himself under investigation by the police Mr Speaker”.

“He called for me to resign when the investigation began, he should at least be consistent and hold himself to the same standards”.

He has called on Sir Keir to apologise and said the Government is now focused on getting through the “aftershocks of Covid”.

“That is what the people of this country want”.

“People want us to say thank you to Sue Gray” and collectively to “move on”.

Sir Keir Starmer: Government believed it was ‘one rule for them and another for everyone else'

12:54 , Elly Blake

Sir Keir Starmer has condemned the “arrogance” of the Government who “believed it was one rule for them and another for everyone else”.

The Labour leader said that even after 126 fines, No 10 think it is everyone else’s fault except theirs.

“They think the fact he only broke the law once is worthy of praise”, he told MPs.

He also addressed the “failure of leadership” mentioned in Sue Gray’s report, which he said was ”utterly shameful” in the context of the cost of living crisis.

Sir Keir then said, “I haven’t broken any rules” but if Durham Police decide differently, “I will do the decent thing and step down”.

He said the British public needed to know there was decency and honesty in politics.

‘The entire senior management has changed’ - PM

12:53 , Elly Blake

The prime minister said he is addressing some of the recommendations found in Sue Gray’s initial report including a change to the “entire senior management” at No 10.

“We are humbled by the experience and we have learned out lesson,” he told MPs.

He then clarified :”I am humbled by the experience and have learned my lesson”.

“Whatever the failings of No 10 and the Cabinet Office during this very difficult period, I continue to believe the [people] in question are good, hard working people, motivated by the highest calling to do the very best for our country”.

He added he was “glad” he had commissioned Sue Gray’s report, before saying the findings meant “we will be able to move on and focus on the priorities of the British people”, mentioning the Ukraine invasion and cost of living crisis.

“That is my mission... we will work day and night to deliver it”.

PM giving statement on Sue Gray report

12:43 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson said he is “thankful” to Sue Gray and the Metropolitan Police for the investigations into partygate.

He has repeated an apology for the event in which he received a fixed penalty notice.

The prime minister added that he takes “full responsiblity” for what took place on “my watch”.

“This is the first chance I’ve had to set out the context,” he told MPs - adding that over 600 days, eight occasions had been identified.

“These people were working extremely long hours” while pulling together the response to fight the pandemic, he said.

“It was appropriate to recognise and thank them for the work they have done. I briefly attended such gatherings to thank them for their service, which I believe is one of the essential duties of leadership”.

He said he was also trying to keep “morale as high as possible”.

“Some of these gatherings then went on far longer than was necessary” and “fell foul of the rules”.

“I had no knowledge of those subsequent proceedings because I simply wasn’t there.

“I have been appalled by some of the behaviour, particularly in the treatment of some of the security and cleaning staff”.

Labour MP asks Boris Johnson ‘how does he sleep at night'

12:41 , Elly Blake

Sticking with PMQs, former shadow minister Andy McDonald has reacted to the Sue Gray report.

“When we saw pictures of the PM partying in the middle of the pandemic, was he toasting his assault on the working class?” he asked.

“And I ask him, how does he sleep at night with so much blood on his filthy privileged hands?”

Sue Gray has given her verdict of what happened on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

12:36 , Elly Blake

Staff carried on drinking in No 10 until the early hours of the morning on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, the Sue Gray report said.

Two leaving dos took place in Downing Street on April 16 2021, including one for departing communications chief James Slack.

After the two events merged in the No 10 garden, some staff began leaving around 9.30pm, having been encouraged by the No 10 custodian to use the rear exit.

However, some remained in the building and carried on drinking, Sue Gray’s report found.

Exit logs indicated that some left after midnight and others between 1.45am and 2.45am.

Two people stayed later, with one leaving at 3.11am and the last departing at 4.20am.

It was reported that a child’s swing/slide in the garden was damaged in the course of the evening by people leaning on it.

Boris Johnson ‘must go’, says David Lammy

12:33 , Elly Blake

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has said that the Sue Gray report “shows the extent of Boris Johnson’s total contempt for the British public”.

He continued: “While you sacrificed again and again, he partied and laughed at you.

“Any Tory MP with principle will join with the country in saying what is obvious:

“Boris Johnson must go.”

PM ‘last person to spot’ cost of living crisis, Sir Keir claims

12:32 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson was the last person to “spot” the cost of living crisis, the Labour leader has said.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer said: “It wasn’t just the Chancellor back in September, Prime Minister called fears about inflation unfounded.

“He was the last person to spot the cost of living crisis. Just as he is the last person to back Labour’s plan to help people through it. And it wasn’t just on inflation that they got it badly wrong. In the same speech, the Chancellor boasted about growth. The Prime Minister does today. How we were going to do better than all our major competitors.

“It was obvious that he was being complacent. And lo and behold, Britain is set to have the lowest growth of any major country except Russia.”

The Prime Minister replied: “He loves running his country down. How many times did he come to this place to say that the United Kingdom had the highest Covid death rate in Europe? How many times? He was proved completely wrong. Did he ever apologise? Absolutely not. Did he ever take it back? Absolutely not.

“Actually, because the steps we took last year we had the fastest growth in the G7 and we will return to the fastest growth by 2024-2025. Thanks to the decisions that this Government took. Yes, They don’t care about getting people into jobs. We care about the working people in this country, making sure we have a high-wage, high-skill, high-employment economy.”

Covid-19 Bereaved Families campaign group: Millions will never forgive No 10 staff for disrespect they’ve shown

12:31 , Elly Blake

Lobby Akinnola, a spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, has said that millions of people will “never forgive” No 10 for the disrespect they have shown.

Reacting to Sue Gray’s findings, he said: “There we have it. Whilst the country had one of the highest death rates in the world from Covid-19, they were celebrating over cheese and wine and drinking themselves sick over a karaoke machine.

“When they refused to learn lessons and allowed the virus to run riot in the second wave, killing more people than it had in the first, they instead prioritised secret Santa.

“When they were texting colleagues about getting away with it, we were having to text our families telling them they couldn’t come to their loved ones’ funerals. The messages in the report show they knew how disrespectful they were being to the families they were failing, but that didn’t bother them.

“Not content with partying whilst he failed to protect our loved ones, the Prime Minister has now spent months ignoring and lying to us. He has treated us like they treated their cleaning staff and security who challenged their law breaking at the time: like we’re an inconvenience, like we’re dirt.

“The Tory MPs that have kept him in power are no better. They should know that just as we will never forget being apart from those closest to us whilst they passed away, or having to hold miserable funerals with only a handful of people, millions will never forgive them for the disrespect they’ve shown.”

MPs must now ‘demand better,’ says charity Full Fact

12:29 , Elly Blake

Chief executive of independent charity Full Fact, Will Moy, has called on MPs to “demand better”.

He said: “Public trust in politics was broken long before Sue Gray began her investigation.”

“Today’s report makes clear that Parliament was not given a full account of the gatherings and rule-breaking that took place during lockdown.”

The charity, which says it demands truth from those in power, added: “So far this year Full Fact has called out dozens of MPs, across the political divide, who have misled the public and failed to correct themselves when challenged.

MPs now face a simple choice: put up with a culture of dishonesty, or demand better. Truth shouldn’t be optional in our democracy.

Ian Blackford: Sue Gray report ‘damning’ but PM refuses to answer questions on it just yet

12:25 , Elly Blake

The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has told MPs the findings of Sue Gray’s full report are “damning”, asking: “will the Prime Minister now take the opportunity and resign?”

“At the centre was the Prime Minister orchestrating it, grabbing a glass for himself in order to toast the party goers. For eight months we’ve heard every excuse under the sun but now, now we’ve all seen the damning photo evidence.

“While people stayed at home to protect the NHS, the Prime Minister was engaging in drinking and debauchery that makes a mockery of the gut wrenching sacrifices that each and every person made.”

Boris Johnson responded by saying Mr Blackford will have a chance to quiz on him the report later this afternoon.

He said: “Much as I appreciate his advice, he’ll have a further opportunity which I’m sure he will take with his customary length to debate that matter in the course of the statement which will follow directly after PMQs.”

PM and Sir Keir clash over cost of living and what more needs to be done to tackle crisis

12:21 , Elly Blake

While Boris Johnson is “distracted” trying to save his own job, the country has been counting the costs, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader told the Commons: “The reality is that every day of his dithering and his delay, £53 million has been added to Britain’s household bills. Whilst he is distracted trying to save his own job, the country has been counting the costs, but complacency is nothing new for this Government.

“Back in October, the Chancellor delivered a mini budget that has to be reread to be believed. With inflation already climbing, he said that he understood people were concerned about it and the Government was ready to act. Since then, inflation has risen to a 40-year-high. The highest rate of any G7 country. If the Government was so ready to act six months ago, why hasn’t it?”

Prime Minister Mr Johnson replied: “The Government has acted and my right honourable friend the Chancellor continues to act. This is the Government that not only put in the living wage, which was a Conservative institution, but we have now raised it by a record amount, we raised it by £1,000, a record amount. We have helped people, families on Universal Credit have another £1,000.”

On the cost-of-living crisis, he added: “And of course, we are going to do more. We are going to put our arms around the people of this country just as we did throughout the Covid pandemic.”

‘Shocking failures of leadership,’ says Sir Ed Davey

12:17 , Elly Blake

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, has condemned the findings of Sue Gray’s report.

He tweeted: “The Sue Gray report lays bare the shocking failures of leadership by Boris Johnson and shows why he’s not fit to lead our country.

“Any other PM would be forced to resign by a report as damaging as this, yet still Conservative MPs defend Johnson and allow him to cling on.”

Keir Starmer quizzes PM on windfall tax

12:13 , Elly Blake

In his first question, Sir Keir Starmer has quizzed the Prime Minister on when the Government will perform an “inevitable U-turn” and introduce an energy windfall tax.

He said: “Hundreds of millions of pounds have been added to bills of families across the country, and hundreds of millions of pounds have landed in the bank accounts of energy companies.

“It sounds like he’s finally seen sense and the inevitable U-turn may finally have arrived. So when can people across the country expect him to use those oil and gas profits to bring down their bills?”

The Prime Minister responded: “There is nothing original about a Labour plan to tax business. They want to tax business the whole time, every day Labour wants to put up taxes on business.

Sir Keir asked whether the publication of the Sue Gray report was what sparked him to perform “a U-turn this week”.

He said: “Prime minister, I am told that hindsight is a wonderful thing. But, Mr Speaker, whilst he dithered and delayed, households across the country suffered when they didn’t need to.

“What is it about the Sue Gray report that first attracted him to a U-turn this week?”

Mr Johnson said he wants to “make sure we have the measures in place to drive investment and drive jobs”.

Deputy Labour leader: ‘It happened on his watch'

12:07 , Elly Blake

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has reacted to the findings in Sue Gray’s report.

She tweeted: “It’s indefensible.

“Boris Johnson’s Downing Street is rotten from the very top. He set the culture. It happened on his watch. It’s on him.”

PMQs has started

12:02 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson has stood up at the despatch box for the beginning of PMQs.

He started by expressing his condolences with the victims of the Texas elementary school shooting.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrific attack.”

Sir Keir added: “It’s an unspeakable tragedy and our hearts are with the American people.”

Turning to the Sue Gray report, the Labour leader said he “looks forward” to discussing its findings later on with the Prime Minister, but now wants to focus on the cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills, as well as a proposed windfall tax.

Sue Gray did not ‘conduct any further investigation’ in alleged gathering at No 10 flat on November 13, 2020

12:02 , Elly Blake

Sue Gray has said she did “not conduct any further investigation” into a meeting held in the No 10 flat to discuss the handling of the departure of Dominic Cummings.

She wrote: “Following the announcement of the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, a meeting was held in the No 10 flat from some time after 18.00 to discuss the handling of their departure.

“Five special advisers attended. The Prime Minister joined them at about 20.00. Food and alcohol were available. The discussion carried on later into the evening with attendees leaving at various points.

“The information collected on this gathering is limited as the process of obtaining evidence had only just been commenced when the Metropolitan Police announced their own investigations, which included events on the 13 November 2020.

“At this point I stopped my investigation, given the need to avoid any prejudice to the police investigation.

“Following the Metropolitan Police announcement on 19 May 2022 I considered whether or not to conduct any further investigation into this event but concluded it was not appropriate or proportionate to do so.”

One party saw ‘minor altercation’ and person ‘sick’ due to excessive alcohol consumption, report finds

11:59 , Elly Blake

One event Sue Gray refers to is a gathering that took place on June 18, 2020 in the Cabinet Office to mark the departure of a No 10 official.

Sue Gray reveals extraordinary detail about some of the things taking place at the event.

She writes: “Some brought pizza and prosecco and they were followed by others, over the next couple of hours.

“Helen MacNamara, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine which was set up in an adjoining office to the waiting room.

She added: “The event lasted for a number of hours. There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals.

“One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals.”

Martin Reynolds messaged special adviser ‘we seem to have go away with’ it, Sue Gray report finds

11:53 , Elly Blake

Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Martin Reynolds boasted “we seem to have got away with” the BYOB garden party in a WhatsApp message to a special adviser.

A No 10 special adviser thanked Mr Reynolds for “providing the wine”, saying it was “a very kind thing to do and I know everyone really appreciated it.”

In another WhatsApp on an unknown date to a special adviser, Mr Reynolds wrote: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

Mr Reynolds left his post in February this year.

Former director of communications warned one event was ‘somewhat of a comms risk'

11:52 , Elly Blake

Former communications chief Lee Cain warned Martin Reynolds and Dominic Cummings the Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20, 2020 was “somewhat of a comms risk” and urged for the event to be cancelled, the Sue Gray report says.

According to the investigation, Mr Cain sent an email to Mr Cummings and Mr Reynolds which said: “I’m sure it will be fine – and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.”

The report adds: “Lee Cain says he subsequently spoke to Martin Reynolds and advised him that the event should be cancelled. Martin Reynolds does not recall any such conversation. In addition, Dominic Cummings has also said that he too raised concerns, in writing. We have not found any documentary evidence of this.”

Warnings were given ahead of ‘BYOB’ event on May 20, 2020, Sue Gray report finds

11:51 , Elly Blake

A No 10 special adviser warned the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, that it would be “helpful” if people avoided “walking around with bottles of wine” ahead of the Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20, 2020 as it was taking place after a press conference, the Sue Gray report has said.

The report states: “[A] No 10 special adviser sent a message to Martin Reynolds by WhatsApp at 14.08 stating ‘Drinks this eve is a lovely idea so I’ve shared with the E & V team who are in the office. Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc.’

“Martin Reynolds replied ‘Will do my best!’”

Pictured: Boris Johnson reading the Sue Gray report

11:45 , Elly Blake

No 10 have released an image of the prime minister reading the Sue Gray report.

Meanwhile, MPs could be seen reading copies of the Sue Gray report in the House of Commons chamber during Wales questions.

 (No 10)
(No 10)

Boris Johnson leaving for PMQs

11:39 , Elly Blake

The prime minister has left Downing Street for the House of Commons.

He is set to face Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs, and will then make a statement on the Sue Gray report.

Revealed: The pictures that made it into Sue Gray’s report

11:39 , Elly Blake

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Sue Gray: ‘Senior leadership... must bear responsibility for this culture'

11:33 , Elly Blake

Sue Gray has concluded that the “senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture” in her report.

She added that the findings in her initial report “still stand”.

The senior civil servant found that “some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly”.

“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable,” she wrote.

In a separate finding she added: “While there is no excuse for some of the behaviour set out here it is important to acknowledge that those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised.”

Pictures from Boris Johnson’s birthday celebration published in Sue Gray’s report

11:30 , Elly Blake

Downing Street has published Sue Gray’s damning partygate report throwing Boris Johnson’s leadership into doubt.

The 59-page document includes details of 16 boozy events across Whitehall and in Downing Street in breach of Covid laws.

It shows photographs from Lee Cain’s lockdown leaving party in November 2020 at which the Prime Minister gave a toast in front of a table strewn with half empty alcohol bottles.

Pictures from Boris Johnson’s surprise birthday party in June 2020 were also published in the document. Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined £50 for attending the event during the first national lockdown.

"A number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did,” Ms Gray found. “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.”

Boris Johnson will make a statement on the report findings in the Commons later on Wednesday following Prime Ministers Questions.

Breaking: Sue Gray’s report has just been published

11:29 , Elly Blake

Sue Gray’s report into partygate has now been published in full.

In her report on partygate Sue Gray said “many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government” and “what happened fell well short” of the standards expected.

If you would like to read the report for yourself, click here.

Boris Johnson to give statement on partygate report after PMQs

11:17 , Elly Blake

The prime minister will give a statement to MPs on the partygate report after Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm.

It is expected he will speak at around 12.40pm.

We will be bringing you live updates from the Commons, so stay tuned...

A bit more information coming through about what Sue Gray’s report includes...

10:55 , Elly Blake

Sue Gray’s report is understood to be 37 pages long and also has nine photos – including pictures of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm

10:39 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson is set to face Keir Starmer at PMQs at 12pm.

We will be bringing you all the latest updates from the despatch box.

The pair will go head-to-head at the despatch box again on Wednesday at PMQs (PA Wire)
The pair will go head-to-head at the despatch box again on Wednesday at PMQs (PA Wire)

Breaking: Sue Gray report has arrived in Downing Street

10:24 , Elly Blake

Downing Street has received Sue Gray’s report on lockdown parties in No 10 and Whitehall, the Cabinet Office said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided her final report to the Prime Minister.”

The report is said to run to about 40 pages.

Findings will be published later on Wednesday, with a press conference expected to be held after Mr Johnson makes a Commons statement.

Simon Case will not be resigning or sacked, according to reports

10:06 , Elly Blake

The country’s most senior civil servant Simon Case will not be resigning and will not be sacked by Boris Johnson over partygate, the PA news agency understands.

Earlier this week, sources told the Telegraph that the Cabinet secretary would come under significant pressure to resign.

“Stinging criticism” will be levelled towards him in Sue Gray’s “brutal” report, it said.

Officials said Mr Case was not among the final tranche of penalties handed out by police when Operation Hillman was wrapped up.

Timeline: The eight lockdown-breaking parties

09:57 , Elly Blake

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police announced they had completed their investigation into gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall.

They said they had issued a total of 126 fixed-penalty notices.

The eight dates for which fines have been issued are:

May 20, 2020 - when “bring your own booze” drinks were held in the Downing Street garden.

June 18, 2020 - when a gathering was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.

June 19, 2020 - the date of Boris Johnson’s birthday, during which he, Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson were fined for attending a celebration.

November 13, 2020 - when a leaving do was held for Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain as well as a party in the No 10 flat.

December 17, 2020 - when several parties were held, including one to mark the departure of Covid taskforce boss Kate Josephs.

December 18 2020 - the date of a pre-Christmas gathering which led to the resignation of former Downing Street press officer Allegra Stratton.

January 14, 2021 - when gatherings took place to mark the departure of two private secretaries, as revealed in Sue Gray’s initial report which was heavily redacted and delivered in January this year.

April 16, 2021 - on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, when two parties were held. One of the parties resulted in the Prime Minister’s young son’s swing being broken.

What were the Covid-19 regulations on Boris Johnson’s birthday?

09:40 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson was issued a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) by the Metropolitan Police for attending a celebration for his birthday on June 19, 2020.

Boris Johnson attended a school and was presented with this cake before the rule-breaking celebration (PA Media)
Boris Johnson attended a school and was presented with this cake before the rule-breaking celebration (PA Media)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson were also fined by police.

At the time, Covid-19 regulations dictated that gatherings for up to six people outdoors were allowed, but were not permitted indoors unless “reasonably necessary” for work purposes.

It was not until more than two weeks later, on July 4, that indoor gatherings between two households were permitted.

Non-essential shops had reopened on June 15, but pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and indoor theatres all remained closed.

Mr Johnson was told by the Met Police that “they are taking no further action” against him last week.

Tory MP says Boris Johnson is already ‘through the worst of it’

09:11 , Elly Blake

A Conservative MP has said he does not think the Sue Gray report will be a “seminal moment” for Boris Johnson.

Charles Walker, the MP for Broxbourne, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the Sue Gray report will make uncomfortable reading and it will make uncomfortable reading for Number 10.

“But if you’re looking at this through the lens of ‘Will it be a seminal moment for the Prime Minister?’, I don’t think it will be.

“I think the seminal moment was the conclusion of the police report with no further penalties issued beyond the one for the birthday cake.”

He added: “My suspicion is – actually my strong inclination is – that the Prime Minister is through the worst of it.”

PM ‘intentionally’ misled Parliament, say former head of civil service

08:53 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson “intentionally” misled Parliament over partygate, the former head of the civil service believes.

Lord Kerslake said junior members of staff in Downing Street are now telling the story in their own words about the lockdown events and “that is quite damaging for the Prime Minister”.

Lord Kerslake told Times Radio: “He [Boris Johnson] gave every impression that there wasn’t a party.

“He gave every impression that there was nothing to see here, and now I think it is pretty clear that he misled Parliament. I think it is pretty clear that he misled intentionally.”

Lord Kerslake led the civil service from January 2012 to September 2014.

Head of civil service to bear ‘ultimate responsibility’ for partygate, according to reports

08:30 , Elly Blake

Among those bracing themselves for the publication of Sue Gray’s partygate report is head of the civil service, Simon Case.

The Cabinet secretary will come under significant pressure to resign this week, according to reports.

“Stinging criticism” will be levelled towards him in Sue Gray’s report, the Telegraph reported earlier this week.

Sources told the newspaper that Mr Case will face significant scrutiny over his leadership and conduct during his tenure in Downing Street, and that the final report “will be brutal”.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case (PA Wire)
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case (PA Wire)

‘We may hear more’ about support package for cost of living crisis 'this week’

08:15 , Elly Blake

Cabinet minister George Eustice suggested a fresh package of support to deal with the rising cost of living would be unveiled within days.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to be finalising a package which could be unveiled this week as the Government attempts to move on from the partygate row.

“My understanding is that he (the Chancellor) is looking at things and we may hear more this week,” the Environment Secretary said.

Mr Eustice told LBC: “We are treading a very difficult path here because if we just borrow lots more money and throw it at the situation we could compound inflation, we could make the situation worse and see prices rise further.

“So we have got to try to dampen that inflation and that means showing some restraint but, equally, helping people, particularly those on the lowest incomes, who will struggle with some of these price rises.”

PM ‘acknowledges’ public anger over partygate, says George Eustice

08:00 , Elly Blake

Cabinet minister George Eustice has said he recognises the public anger over one instance which saw Downing Street staff sleep on No 10 sofas following gatherings at a time when people could not attend loved ones’ funerals.

The environment secretary told Sky News: “It’s not just the optics, it’s understandable that people will feel anger because there were instances, yes, where people couldn’t attend funerals of close friends, couldn’t visit loved ones.

“Of course, we absolutely recognise that, the Prime Minister recognises that, that’s why he has apologised for the failings in No 10 and for his own part in that.”

Mr Johnson “absolutely acknowledges just how angry people will feel and completely gets that and has apologised for that”.

George Eustice: Line was blurred between ‘what was acceptable and what wasn’t’

07:41 , Elly Blake

A Cabinet minister has acknowledged that the line between work and social activity was blurred in No 10 during the coronavirus lockdowns.

As Westminster awaited the publication of Sue Gray’s report on lockdown-busting parties, George Eustice said: “Clearly what happened in No 10 is a culture developed where they were working there, it was their place of work, and there were times when they would have a drink at the end of the day.”

The environment secretary told Times Radio: “That boundary between what was acceptable and what wasn’t got blurred and that was a mistake and Sue Gray highlighted that in her first interim report and I think she is almost certainly going to say more about that when her final report comes out.

“The Prime Minister himself has accepted that and recognises there were of course failings and therefore there’s got to be some changes to the way the place is run.”

What did Sue Gray’s initial report say?

07:23 , Elly Blake

Senior civil servant Sue Gray released her initial findings earlier this year.

Her much-awaited first report into lockdown parties in Downing Street was released in January, although in a heavily redacted form.

She stripped back details of her findings until a Metropolitan Police probe had concluded.

The first report was just nine pages long, and outlined 16 events, 12 of which were investigated by Scotland Yard.

The report makes clear that following the Met’s request not to publish details of events Scotland Yard were investigating, Ms Gray was “extremely limited” in what she could say.

“It’s not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather,” she said.

However, she did found there were “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.

Some events “should not have been allowed to take place” at all, while others “should not have been allowed to develop as they did”, the report found.

It stated: “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.”

In her conclusion, Ms Grey found there is “significant learning to be drawn” from the events which must be “addressed immediately across Government”.

The report stated: “This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”

Good morning

07:01 , Elly Blake

Welcome to the Standard's politics live blog, on what looks to be a momentous day in Westminster.

The full report by civil servant Sue Gray into lockdown parties in Whitehall during lockdowns is expected to be published later today.

We will be bringing you live updates as soon as we’ve got them, so stay tuned...

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