Sir Keir Starmer took the unexpected step to hire Sue Gray to work in his office – and the Tories are already accusing the Labour party of staging a 'left wing stitch up' over partygate.
Starmer and Labour have hit back at the “ludicrous” claims that the senior civil servant was appointed as part of a Boris Johnson stitch-up over his involvement in the Downing Street parties.
The usual suspects have already come out criticising the move.
Former culture secretary and fierce Johnson ally Nadine Dorries said the news was “not surprising”.
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Posting on Twitter, she said: “Whilst writing [the] report, she used QC who tweeted out pro-Labour, anti-government tweets whilst Alistair Campbell heaped praise upon her.
“Her communications assistant briefed against Johnson from day one. The Gray report was a stitch up of [the] PM and cabinet secretaries.”
\u201cSue Gray move to Starmers office not surprising. Whilst writing report, she used QC who tweeted out pro Labour anti gov tweets whilst Alistair Campbell heaped praise upon her. Her comms assistant briefed against Johnson from day 1. The Gray report was a stitch up of PM and CSs\u201d— Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP (@Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP) 1677771042
However, as people pointed out, Dorries and other Tories were full of praise for Gray when she was putting the enquiry together.
\u201c"I know Sue Gray will be thorough and professional about her work... She is professional and formidable... She is known to be independent" - Nadine Dorries, January 2022.\u201d— Adam Bienkov (@Adam Bienkov) 1677776943
Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said the appointment “stinks” and called for an inquiry.
Speaking on GB News, he said: “It is hard not to feel that she has been rewarded and offered a plum job for effectively destroying a prime minister and creating a coup. This blows apart the idea of civil service impartiality. This appointment stinks.”
However, a former Tory cabinet minister told the Huffington Post: “The conspiracy theorists like Jacob Rees-Mogg will see this as evidence that Boris was framed, but that is obviously nonsense.
“He actually survived partygate but was brought down by the Chris Pincher stuff, which was entirely his own doing.”
Labour shadow culture secretary, Lucy Powell, condemned suggestions from the former prime minister’s allies that Gray’s new position shows that the Partygate scandal was manufactured to bring down Johnson.
Starmer confirmed he was appointing Gray on ThursdayHollie Adams/Getty Images
She told Times Radio: “I think that's just a ludicrous claim by Boris Johnson and stands in stark contrast to what he said at the time the report was published, and all the while that the report and the investigation was taking place, when the prime minister - and indeed the rest of the Conservative government - were at pains to tell the country how independent and impartial, and how formidable, Sue Gray was as a civil servant, which she absolutely was.”
Powell insisted “there's no suggestion whatsoever” that Gray would reveal any information to Labour she has been privy to as a senior Cabinet Office official.
Asked whether Ms Gray's knowledge of ministerial appointments and conflicts of interest made her attractive to Labour, Ms Powell told Times Radio: “Absolutely not. And, of course, there's no suggestion whatsoever that Sue would reveal any of that information.
“It's not what she's coming in to do.”
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