‘Am I a fool?’: Tory MP blasts PM after following Covid rules ...
Emotions are running high in the House of Commons today, after a report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into lockdown-breaching parties found there were “failures of leadership and judgment” by No 10 and the Cabinet Office.
The long-awaited report, instead labelled an ‘update’ by Ms Gray, also criticised “the excessive consumption of alcohol” and claimed some of the gatherings “represent a serious failure to observe” the high standards of government.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responded to the report in the Commons by saying it reached the “most damning conclusion possible”.
It wasn’t the only hard-hitting contribution in parliament this afternoon, and we’ve rounded up some of the sharpest – but also, some of the weirdly defensive – responses to the report by MPs.
"What the Gray report does show, is that Number 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public" - former PM Theresa May.\n\nPM Boris Johnson: "That is not what the Gray report says."\n\nLive: https://trib.al/pt9LuOR\u00a0pic.twitter.com/2L2ipnH11P
Former prime minister Theresa May, Mr Johnson’s predecessor, was first up after Mr Starmer’s comments.
She said: “What the Gray report does show is that No 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public. So either [Boris Johnson] did not read the rules, or did not understand what they meant or others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to No 10.
\u201cThis prime minister has lied and misled the House... he must now resign\u201d\n\nSNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford repeatedly asked to withdraw comments about Boris Johnson, by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle\n\nhttps://bbc.in/3IQlCZt\u00a0pic.twitter.com/MT0c19JCpT
The Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Ian Blackford, didn’t hold back in his criticism of Mr Johnson and the report, which he described as a “farce carefully engineered to be a fact-finding exercise with no conclusions”.
Citing Mr Johnson’s previous explanation that he thought a party was a “work event”, Mr Blackford said: “Nobody believed him then, and nobody believes him now, prime minister.
“That is the crux. No ifs, no buts, he has wilfully – wilfully – misled Parliament.”
However, while MPs can suggest a prime minister has “inadvertently misled the House”, they can’t go further than that, and so Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked him to withdraw the remarks.
“It’s not my fault if the prime minister can’t be trusted,” Mr Blackford went on to reply, which prompted Sir Lindsay to order him to leave the House.
That is, if he didn’t leave while the speaker was reading out said order.
"Does the prime minister understand, does he care about the enormous hurt his actions have caused to bereaved families across our country?" - Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey.\n\nPM: "I do care deeply about the hurt that is felt across the country..."\n\nLive: https://trib.al/pt9LuOR\u00a0pic.twitter.com/Ahi16NiwWg
The Liberal Democrat referred to parents suffering from the loss of a child during a pandemic in his question to the prime minister.
“Many had to bury their children alone, many couldn’t be there with them at the end. Meanwhile, No 10 partied.
“Does the prime minister understand, does he care about the enormous hurt his actions have caused to the real families across our country? Will he finally accept that the only decent thing that he can do now, is to resign,” Mr Davey asked.
\u201cThe prime minister is certainly a bad apple, but the whole tree is rotten and the whole country wants reform,\u201d Green Party MP Caroline Lucas says\n\n\u201cThe police do an outstanding job\u2026 we should await their conclusions,\u201d Boris Johnson replies\n\nhttps://bbc.in/3IQlCZt\u00a0pic.twitter.com/AenaH4K5lt
The Green Party MP, who represents Brighton Pavilion, took aim at a number of institutions in her Commons speech – at first slamming the “shocking incompetence of the Metropolitan Police” for leading to a report “which has been gutted”.
“Frankly we didn’t need Sue Gray to tell us about the level of dishonour and deception that has infected not only Downing Street, but so many in the party opposite.
“It has been excruciating to watch so many Tory MPs and ministers willing to defend the indefensible, calculating what is in their own party political interests, rather than what’s right for our country – complicit in the same decaying system where the pursuit of power trumps integrity.
“The power is certainly a bad apple, but the whole tree is rotten and the whole country wants reform,” Ms Lucas said.
Her question turned to the ministerial code, where she criticised its enforcement typically by “a person of honesty and integrity” as prime minister, but such a view has now been “so widely and comprehensively and utterly discredited”.
'I reminded Tom Harwood that Tony Blair suggested that there should be a an Office of Prime Minister'\n\nMichael Fabricant MP recalls his interview with GB News Political Correspondent @tomhfh as MPs react to Sue Gray's findings.\n\n Freeview 236, Sky 515, Virgin 626\n DAB+pic.twitter.com/yiobtpEv0v
Ever an MP to offer up unusual contributions amid some political drama, Mr Fabricant decided to name-drop a certain GB News reporter in his contributions to the House.
“Two weeks ago, I reminded Tom Harwood that Tony Blair suggested there should be an office of prime minister so that it could be governed not from 70 Whitehall, but the building itself,” he said.
'Does the prime minister think I'm a fool?'\n\nTory MP Aaron Bell says only ten people could attend his grandmother's funeral in May 2020 - when there were two alleged lockdown-breaching gatherings at Downing Street\nhttps://www.itv.com/news/2022-01-31/sue-gray-report-condemns-serious-failure-in-number-10-to-observe-rules\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/SXhhO9wst3
Clearly emotional as he shared his thoughts on Ms Gray’s report, the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme revealed how he attended her grandmother’s funeral in May 2020, driving three hours to make the event.
Detailing the sacrifices he made, he then asked the prime minister simply: “Does [he] think I’m a fool?”
Today I asked @BorisJohnson how he would feel if the police investigation into him & his office leads to a trial on serious charges such as misconduct in public office or perverting the course of justice & he has to give evidence on oath. #suegreyreportpic.twitter.com/mtgCRyEWkA
The SNP MP, who also serves as a lawyer, referred instead to the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation.
Raising the hypothetical situation of the force making “serious charges” of misconduct in public office or perverting the course of justice, Ms Cherry asked: “How would the prime minister feel having to give evidence on oath?”
Boris Johnson suggests that questions of drug use be directed "towards the Labour front bench."pic.twitter.com/S3ricOWcV5
The Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport MP referred to Ms Gray’s finding that there was an “excessive consumption of alcohol” at the parties which is “not appropriate”.
“Is there also a culture of excessive drug-taking in Downing Street,” he asked.
A shocking question which prompted gasps from fellow MPs prompted an equally shocking remark – or rather, an unsubstantiated allegation - in response, as Mr Johnson replied: “Any drug-taking would be excessive and perhaps he should direct that question to the Labour front bench.”
Yes, our head is spinning too after listening to it all, and much like Sue Gray – or not – we probably need a stiff drink.
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