Boris Johnson discusses partygate and Brexit three years on
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Boris Johnson backers have launched a petition demanding Sue Gray’s partygate report is ditched. The petition by the Conservative Post comes amid a row over the top civil servant quitting her role to become Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.
Ms Gray detailed lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street during Mr Johnson’s leadership in a report last year that contributed to his downfall.
Her move to Labour – confirmed yesterday – has sparked uproar from the former PM’s allies who insist it raises questions about the Privileges Committee investigation into whether Mr Johnson knowingly misled Parliament over the saga.
Claire Bullivant, founder and editor of Conservative Post, told the Express: “The Sue Gray report should be null and void. It’s ridiculous if the Privileges Committee use it in any shape or form.”
Lord Cruddas, who founded the Conservative Democratic Organisation following the ousting of Mr Johnson, added: “The Sue Gray report should be cancelled as evidence and thrown out by the Privileges Committee following her defection to the Labour Party.
“It stinks and even Owen Jones a staunch socialist and Labour supporter thinks it is bad.
“It is time to move on and stop playing political games with people’s lives and careers.”
The Tory peer and donor said that the report, published last May, has “no credibility”.
He said: “Just imagine if Boris is suspended or has to stand down as an MP based on this report, by somebody that now works for Labour.
“If it looks like a stitch up, smells like a stitch up etc.”
Mr Johnson, who was forced out of No 10 last year in the wake of a series of scandals including partygate, today said it was “concerning” that the inquiry into whether he lied to MPs will rely on evidence by Ms Gray as she will be working for Labour.
He said: “It is surreal to discover that the committee proposes to rely on evidence culled and orchestrated by Sue Gray, who has just been appointed chief of staff to the leader of the Labour Party.
“This is particularly concerning given that the committee says it is proposing to rely on ‘the findings in the second permanent secretary’s report’ as ‘relevant facts which the committee will take into account’.”
However the cross-party committee defended its probe, insisting it is “not based on the Sue Gray report”.
Loyalists of Mr Johnson have reacted furiously to the move by the senior civil servant who investigated partygate.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Sue Gray’s evidence cannot be relied upon in any meaningful way until we know how long Sue Gray has had a personal relationship with Keir Starmer and for how long they have been discussing Sue going to work for him as his most trusted and important adviser.”
Ex-Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg added: “So much for an impartial Civil Service, the Gray report now looks like a left-wing stitch-up against a Tory Prime Minister.”
And Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said: “This is a total circus. How can the work Keir Starmer’s top political adviser be used against Boris like this? This cannot possibly be a fair process.”
Labour dismissed claims that Ms Gray’s move to Sir Keir’s office proved a plot to oust the former prime minister.
The partygate investigator will take up the role after following the “normal procedures”, which could include a recommended waiting period ultimately decided by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
She is expected to await the decision of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) before starting the role.
Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog can advise waiting periods before civil servants take on other jobs and the Prime Minister ultimately makes the final decision.
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