BORIS Johnson promised a shake-up of No. 10 after it emerged police were investigating at least 12 events across Government for Covid breaches including the Prime Minister’s birthday celebration and a gathering in his Downing Street flat.

The Prime Minister apologised today and insisted “I get it and I will fix it” as he faced fresh calls to resign after Sue Gray’s limited inquiry criticised “failures of leadership and judgment.”

But he repeatedly refused to back calls, including from senior Tory MPs, to publish the full unredacted report from the senior civil servant after she conceded she had to pare it back while the Metropolitan Police investigate.

Ms Gray criticised “failures of leadership and judgment” in No 10 and the Cabinet Office while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Read more: MPs are urged to call for the resignation of Boris Johnson after Sue Gray partial report

North East MPs were mixed in their reaction to the PM's statement and the report's findings, with Conservatives giving him support and Labour MPs calling for him to resign.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East ClevelandSimon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

“I absolutely stand by the Prime Minister and I am very proud to serve in Boris' Government.

“Boris has led us through this awful pandemic and his decisions have resulted in us being the most vaccinated nation in Europe.

“We are the first out of most restrictions and crucially of course, this is the Prime Minister who delivered Brexit, who honoured the promise that was made in a way which no one else, frankly, could or would have done and that's what Teesside voted for, overwhelmingly.

“And crucially, this is the Prime Minister who's delivering on our Levelling Up agenda. All the investment we're seeing on Teesside, everything that Ben Houchen has been able to do for our area. 

“That's because he's got a Prime Minister behind him who is absolutely determined that places like Middlesbrough and Redcar and Darlington and Stockton, which had been left behind and ignored.

“This is why we have been given the opportunities like the freeport, and new exciting adventures like the Treasury coming to Teesside.

“These are the changes which will improve the life chances of a whole generation of Teessiders. Only Boris, frankly, would launch that agenda.

“I am incredibly proud to be one of his ministers. I think he's been a fantastic force for good in areas of the north like ours and I stand by him 100% in getting on with that important work.”

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Paul Howell

Conservative MP for Sedgefield said in the Commons today: “The rules are clearly in question here. The rules themselves were put out by this Government have got this country to where it is. We’ve got to remember that those rules did the right thing. So yes, there’s got to be consequences in No. 10 for any rules that have been broken but please remember, the right thing was done by the instigation of the rules in the first place.

“We need to move on and level up this country.”

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Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North

The Northern Echo: Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton NorthAlex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North

“Even though Sue Gray has been forced to censor most of her report because of the police investigation, it still highlights serious failures of leadership from the Prime Minister and a failure of his Conservative Government to uphold the accepted standards of public life.

“The report states clearly that the behaviour around these gatherings is “difficult to justify” yet time and again we see Ministers, Conservative MPs and even the Tees Valley Mayor come out and defend the indefensible.  Whilst the British people stuck to the rules and did the right thing, the Prime Minister did what he liked.

“Honesty and decency matter in public office, but after months of denials and of treating the public with contempt the Prime Minister is under police investigation.  He has repeatedly denied rule-breaking parties and even today in Parliament he tried to hide behind the police investigation. 

“He’s apologised because he’s been caught lying, not because he thinks he’s done anything wrong. He needs to do the right thing now and resign.”

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Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar

The Northern Echo: Jacob Young, Conservative MP for RedcarJacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar

“I welcome this report from Sue Gray which shows the culture in No.10 Downing Street clearly must change. The Prime Minister has apologised unreservedly, has outlined how he will act, and I believe now is the time to move on. 

“Boris has consistently got the big calls right - whether on Brexit, vaccine rollout, lifting lockdown - while the Labour Party has criticised and carped from the sidelines and if it were up to them we'd still be in lockdown.

“We cannot waste any more time, so now Boris has to show that his apology means something and instigate the changes in how No.10 operates, alongside returning his 100% focus to peoples' priorities - stopping illegal immigration, tackling the cost of living and levelling up across the country.”

Mary Foy, Labour MP for City of Durham

The Northern Echo: Mary Foy, Labour MP for City of DurhamMary Foy, Labour MP for City of Durham

“The interim report from Sue Gray is damning. It reveals serious failure at the heart of the Government.

“We now know that the Metropolitan Police are investigating twelve gatherings reported to have taken place during lockdown in Downing Street. Including at the Prime Minister's own flat. That is disgraceful.

“As outlined by Sue Gray, every citizen has been impacted by the pandemic, making profound sacrifices. Sacrifices that were not reciprocated by the Prime Minister and his staff.

“They have insulted each and every person that had to wave through a window at a family member. They have insulted every person that couldn’t say goodbye to a loved one and they have insulted every one of our brave healthcare workers who often spent weeks at a time away from their families.

“Make no mistake, the Prime Minister offered no real apology, he is only sorry that he has been caught out. His behaviour follows a pattern of a lifetime. Every day he remains in office our country is more damaged.

“Sue Gray is clear, these events must be addressed immediately. Action does not need to wait for the police. This action begins by removing the rot from the top of the Government.

“Boris Johnson is shameless, hopeless and heartless.

“I'll say it again - Resign.”

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North 

The Northern Echo: Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle NorthCatherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North

“The Prime Minister repeatedly assured Parliament and the public that all guidance was followed and no lockdown rules were broken.

“However, the Sue Gray 'update' makes clear the very serious failings of leadership in Downing Street, and we now have a Prime Minister who is under criminal investigation for breaching the very lockdown laws he put in place.

“Throughout the pandemic I have been contacted by people sharing heart breaking stories of loved ones lost without saying a proper goodbye, new-borns who never got to meet their grandparents, lost businesses, and livelihoods, and struggles with the crushing loneliness of lockdown. People made huge sacrifices following the rules.

“Today the Prime Minister showed he has no genuine respect or understanding for those sacrifices the public made. He continues to blame everyone but himself, and is unfit to hold public office.

“Every day he remains in office he degrades the integrity of Parliament and politics, and if he had any remorse or respect for the public we serve, he would resign.”

Bob Buxton, Party Leader - Yorkshire Party

The Northern Echo: Bob Buxton, Yorkshire Party LeaderBob Buxton, Yorkshire Party Leader

“The Sue Gray report update confirms what we already knew: a failure of leadership at 10 Downing St, a failure to uphold high standards, parties that broke the rules, and, by extension, that Parliament was misled by the Prime Minister.

“Any MP who does not call for the Prime Minister to resign now, is letting the country down. Frankly, any MP so derelict of their duty should also resign. The country deserves better than 'yes men', it deserves MPs who stand up for basic moral values, from all parties.

“While the Government is focused on justifying the unjustifiable, the cost of living crisis grows daily, with soaring household bills, especially energy bills. What is the Government's response? Increasing National Insurance - a tax that hits the poorest hardest, just when they can least afford it. If the UK were rebalanced and fair, Yorkshire would be sufficiently funded by current taxation.”

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The saga was far from over, however, for the embattled Prime Minister, with the senior civil servant saying she was unable to publish meaningful findings because of the Metropolitan Police investigation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded Mr Johnson publish a full Gray inquiry in the future, as he said the British people believe the Prime Minister should “do the decent thing and resign” but will not because he is “a man without shame.”


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