Tory MP Quits Government With Swipe At Boris Johnson Over Partygate Response

Angela Richardson says there were "failings" at No.10 that "let us all down" as she leaves post as ministerial aide.
<strong>Conservative MP for Guildford, Angela Richardson, during in the House of Commons last year.</strong>
Conservative MP for Guildford, Angela Richardson, during in the House of Commons last year.
UK Parliament/Roger Harris via PA Media

A Conservative MP has shared her “deep disappointment” at the handling of the partygate affair as she announced her resignation as a ministerial aide.

Angela Richardson, MP for Guildford MP and parliamentary private secretary to Michael Gove, said Sue Gray’s assessment shows there were “failings” at No 10 “that let us all down”, but she said she had quit last week to spend more time on her constituency work.

In a statement on Facebook, she said: “Sue Gray’s report published today clearly states that there were failings at Number 10 Downing Street that let us all down.

“I share the deep disappointment that it has taken so long to get to this stage when there could have been an early acknowledgement and apology.

“Last week, I stepped back from my governmental responsibilities to invest more of my time realising the campaigns that I am working on for the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.

“In so doing, I will have more freedom to fulfil my promise to you as I hold the government to account, as a critical friend, on the issues that matter most to the people of Guildford.”

On Monday, Gray finally published a shortened, 12-page report into alleged lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Gray blamed “failures of leadership and judgment” in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office for the scandal which has rocked Johnson’s government.

The senior civil servant said it was “difficult to justify” the controversial gatherings as she criticised the “excessive consumption of alcohol” by government staff.

The report revealed police are investigating at least three parties Johnson allegedly attended during lockdown and a separate bash held in his Downing Street flat.

It showed that 12 parties allegedly held at the heart of government during Covid lockdowns are being probed by the Metropolitan Police.

Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report.
Boris Johnson delivers a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report.
House of Commons - PA Images via Getty Images

During a stormy session in the Commons, Johnson was warned he has lost the support of a senior Tory MP over the handling of the allegations.

Former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said he had previously given his “full-throated support” to the PM over a 30-year period.

But Mitchell became the latest Tory MP to publicly question Johnson as he said: “I have to tell him he no longer enjoys my support.”

Meanwhile, Conservative former prime minister Theresa May said: “The Covid regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public. They had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules and indeed those around him to have done so too and to set an example in following those rules.

“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?”

Johnson replied: “No, Mr Speaker that is not what the Gray report says, I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.”

Former chief whip Mark Harper was among the Tory backbenchers to ask for Johnson to commit to publish Gray’s report in full once the police investigation has concluded.

He noted: “Many have questioned, including my constituents, 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.”

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.”

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