Sue Gray report: Aylesbury MP pleased with Prime Minister's planned changes

Aylesbury's MP says he is reserving further judgement until the Met inquiry has concluded

By James Lowson
Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 1:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 1:14 pm

Aylesbury MP Rob Butler is pleased that the Prime Minister has committed to changing Downing Street and Cabinet Office protocols following the Sue Gray report.

Yesterday (January 31), the Sue Gray report was published without the most serious allegations that are being investigated by the police.

Within the partly published findings, it found that there had been ‘serious failings’ of 'leadership and judgment’ in allowing parties to take place during a national lockdown.

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Rob Butler with Boris Johnson on the PM's recent visit to Aylesbury

In total the investigation reports there were 16 gatherings, 12 remain under police investigation and Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended at least three of them.

Gray's report also states that there was 'excessive consumption of alcohol', and the reported gatherings were 'difficult to justify'.

Since the report was published yesterday afternoon, Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield, Andrew Mitchell, has withdrawn his support for Mr Johnson.

Mr Butler stated he intends to wait until the police inquiry is over, before discussing what the consequences should be for the Downing Street parties.

Aylesbury MP Rob Butler

Reuters reports that in a Parliamentary meeting Mr Johnson consulted Conservative MPs, explaining he intends to change his team and the way he engages with his party.

Mr Butler told the Bucks Herald: "I want to start by repeating what I have said since the first reports of gatherings emerged:

"I share the anger felt by people across the constituency and the country about the events at Downing Street – they have rightly provoked rage and deeply upset people, especially when so many local residents were making huge sacrifices in their own lives, sometimes even being separated from relatives in their final days when they most needed comfort and support.

"It was absolutely right that these events be formally investigated, and I am pleased that Sue Gray has now submitted a report, which I have read carefully.

PM Boris Johnson

"It is of course extremely frustrating that she has been unable to report in full detail, but that is because of a specific request from the Metropolitan Police.

"However, there are clear and serious criticisms of what occurred at Number 10 in the report she has already issued. I am pleased that the Prime Minister stated unequivocally in Parliament that he accepts all the findings in the Gray report and the recommendations it contains; that "we must learn from these events and act now".

"In particular, he has committed to make changes at Number 10 and in the Cabinet Office. the Civil Service and Special Adviser codes of conduct will be reviewed and properly enforced; a new Office of the Prime Minister will be created to rectify what Ms Gray describes as the "fragmented and complicated" leadership structures of Downing Street; and the connection between Number 10 and Parliament will be improved.

"These are positive steps in response to Ms Gray's report, and I welcome them."

Mr Johnson was criticised for using his parliamentary privilege to repeat false allegations about Labour Leader Keir Starmer's role in the prosecution of Jimmy Savile.

Mr Butler concluded by stating he would wait until the Metropolitan Police report is finished before offering a clearcut response on what consequences the Prime Minister should face.

Mr Butler added: "Importantly, the Prime Minister has repeated his apology both for what happened and for the way the matter has been handled.

"This is absolutely the right thing to do. I recognise how annoying it is that once more there is a delay, but I am afraid the fact is that we must now wait for the completion of the police inquiry.

"Once it concludes, we will all be in a better position to judge the necessary consequences."