Boris Johnson says 'I'll fix it' after damning report into lockdown parties
- Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Boris Johnson said “sorry is not enough” to MPs in the Houses of Commons after Sue Gray’s report revealed 12 Downing Street parties will be investigated by police.
The prime minister addressed the report, which said there had been a "serious failure" of leadership, in the Commons on Monday, January 31.
He said: “Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.
“It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone.
“We asked people across this country to make the most extraordinary sacrifices – not to meet loved ones, not to visit relatives before they died, and I understand the anger that people feel.
“But it isn’t enough to say sorry. This is a moment when we must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn.
“While the Metropolitan Police must yet complete their investigation, and that means there are no details of specific events in Sue Gray’s report, I of course accept Sue Gray’s general findings in full, and above all her recommendation that we must learn from these events and act now.”
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The pared-back version of Ms Gray’s report published online said “it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public”.
The Downing Street garden was used for gatherings “without clear authorisation or oversight” in a way that was “not appropriate”.
The report reveals 12 events are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police, including a gathering in the Downing Street flat and an event to mark Boris Johnson’s birthday in June 2020.
Mr Johnson said: “We are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run so that we can get on with the job that I was elected to do and the job that this Government was elected to do."
Concluding his statement on the report, Boris Johnson added: “I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the prime minister to publish Ms Gray’s report in full but insisted it is already clear that what she has disclosed so far is “the most damning conclusion possible”.
Sir Keir said in the House of Commons: “The prime minister repeatedly assured the House that the guidance was followed and the rules were followed.
"But we now know that 12 cases have breached the threshold for criminal investigation, which I remind the House means that there is evidence of serious and flagrant breaches of lockdown, including the party on May 20 2020, which we know the prime minister attended, and the party on November 13 2020 in the prime minister’s flat.
“There can be no doubt that the prime minister himself is now subject to criminal investigation. The prime minister must keep his promise to publish Sue Gray’s report in full when it is available, but it is already clear what the report disclosed is the most damning conclusion possible.”
Sir Keir appealed to Tory MPs to make a decision on Boris Johnson’s future.
He added: "It is only they who can end this farce. The eyes of the country are upon them. They will be judged on the decisions they take now.”
Conservative and former prime minister Theresa May said: “The Covid regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public.
“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, so either my right honourable friend had not read the rules or didn’t understand what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?”
Boris Johnson failed to commit to publish the report in full once the police investigation has concluded.
Conservative and former chief whip Mark Harper said in the Commons: “The question here is whether those who make the law, obey the law. That’s pretty fundamental.
“Many have questioned the prime minister’s honesty, integrity and fitness to hold that office. In judging him he rightly asked us to wait for all the facts.
“Sue Gray has made it clear in her update today that she couldn’t produce a meaningful report with the facts.
“So could I ask the Prime Minister the question Labour MP Diane Abbott asked him and to which he didn’t give an answer. When Sue Gray produces all of the facts in her full report after the police investigation, will he commit to publish it immediately and in full?”
Mr Johnson replied: “What we’ve got to do is wait for the police to conclude their inquiries, that is the proper thing to do.
"People have given all sorts of evidence in the expectation that it would not necessarily be published, at that stage I will take a decision about what to publish.”