A former Conservative attorney-general has called for Boris Johnson to resign over the findings of Sue Gray’s report into the partygate scandal.
The Kenilworth and Southam MP, who served as the government’s chief legal adviser under David Cameron and Theresa May, today said Downing Street’s pattern of brazen Covid rule breaking has “done real and lasting damage to the reputation not just of this government but to the institutions and authority of government more generally”.
In a statement on his own website, which was taken down shortly after, Wright said the Prime Minister should quit “both to safeguard future public compliance with government instructions . . . and to allow the present government to deliver the important legislation it has introduced”.
Twenty-six MPs have now called for Johnson to resign, after Carshalton MP Elliot Colburn announced today that he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
A Conservative party leadership challenge will be triggered if 54 letters of no confidence are sent to the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers chair Sir Graham Brady.
Wright said: “If leadership is in part about setting the right tone for the organisation you lead, the tone represented by the routine disregard for the spirit, and often the letter, of the Covid rules which Sue Gray describes betrayed at best a casual and at worst a contemptuous attitude to the sacrifices made and distress felt by the many who observed rigorously both spirit and letter of those rules.
“I find it impossible to accept that the prime minister does not bear some personal responsibility for that tone.”
Gray’s 37-page report last week revealed a pattern of brazen rule-breaking by Downing Street staff throughout 2020 and 2021.
This included one event in June 2020, which lasted late into the night and saw one person vomit and two other people fighting.
The report shows senior staff clearly knew they were breaking their own Covid rules, with former communications director Lee Cain warning on multiple occasions that having staff parties was a bad idea.
However, the Prime Minister maintains that he was not aware that any of the events were in breach of his own Covid rules.
The Sunday Times reported that three senior government officials, including top civil servant Simon Case, lobbied Gray to water down her report on the eve of its release.
It was reported that they tried to persuade Gray to omit names from the report and to change passages relating to Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie.
Changes were reportedly made to the final report into the Downing Street parties scandal to remove passages about Carrie Johnson’s Abba night party on 13 November.
A separate Sunday Times story reported that the Prime Minister and his wife had an illegal event on 19 June 2020, which was not uncovered by the Gray report.
This has led to Labour calling for another investigation into the partygate scandal.
Responding to these calls, junior culture minister Chris Philp told Times Radio: “We’ve had an unbelievably comprehensive set of investigations, going on now for nearly six months.
“There was obviously the Sue Gray investigation, published last week. She interviewed dozens if not hundreds of people in the course of her investigation, with emails, message and everything else. And we’ve had the Metropolitan Police investigation, which again has gone over a number of months, and they’ve conducted that with full police powers.
“So, having had two separate investigations, including by the police, over many months, it’s not immediately obvious to me that we need any more, when this has rightly been the most investigated set of incidents in recent times.”