BoJo apologizes in Parliament for “failures in leadership” an hour after Partygate investigative report is released

Senior civil servant Sue Gray released an investigative report into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s behavior during Great Britain’s COVID-19 lockdowns today. One hour later, it is reported, Boris Johnson apologized to members of Parliament. And, like a standard-issue bureaucrat, BoJo announced the creation of a new office and permanent secretary to lead Number 10 Downing Street.

Johnson went to Parliament to throw himself at the mercy of the elected politicians. He promised to “look in the mirror and learn.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament he would “look in the mirror and learn” after Sue Gray’s damning report in partygate attacked “failures of leadership” under his tenure.

Speaking to a standing-room-only Commons chamber, the prime minister told MPs he was sorry, but added: “It isn’t enough to say sorry.”

Johnson said he accepted Gray’s findings “in full,” particularly her call to “learn from these events and act now.”

As a result, the prime minister unveiled changes to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run, creating a new Office of the Prime Minister, with a new permanent secretary, to lead Number 10 — a plan that had been toyed with for many months.

The civil service and special adviser code of conduct would be reviewed and updated to ensure those codes are properly enforced.

Earlier this month, while the investigation was ongoing, BoJo apologized to the Queen for hosting parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. A few days after that, Johnson’s excuse for his bad behavior was that no one told him he couldn’t have his ‘drinks parties’ during lockdown, which is just plain dumb. He’s the one responsible for the lockdown rules. Next thing we knew, Scotland Yard was entering the fray.

The site of the parties,10 Downing Street, is the official residence of the prime minister. He doesn’t just work there, he lives there. He claims that during some of the parties, he was not present. That may be but he is still considered the host of such gatherings because it’s his residence. Technicality or not, he’s responsible and being held as such.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray led the investigation into Johnson’s gatherings. Not surprisingly, the investigation found that the man who put the lockdown rules in place should not have been violating those rules himself. Johnson was found to be living by a different set of rules. Her report presented today deals with only four of 16 alleged social events under investigation.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray concluded that “failures of leadership and judgment” allowed events to occur that “should not have been allowed to take place.”

“Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behavior surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify,” Gray said.

Gray’s glimpse inside a 10 Downing St. marked by excessive alcohol consumption and staff afraid to speak out about workplace problems are a blow to Johnson — who has previously said the rules were followed at all times — and come despite the fact that Gray’s conclusions relate to just four of the 16 events she investigated.

Police requested that the findings of the other 12 events which happened in 2020 and 2021 be withheld. They have launched a criminal investigation into the most serious allegations of breaches of the lockdown rules. Hello, Scotland Yard. Johnson’s opponents accuse him of whitewashing the situation. Conservatives, as well as liberals, have called for his resignation. Johnson said he’s not going anywhere.

“The hardship under which citizens across the country worked, lived and sadly even died while observing the government’s regulations and guidance rigorously are known only too well,” Gray wrote.

“At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings.”

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: “During this crisis, our country needed a leader more than at any time since the Second World War. We didn’t get one. This report shows what we have known all along: The Prime Minister is a coward, a rule-breaker and needs to step down.”

As requested by Metropolitan Police, Gray’s report kept references to the parties at a minimum so as not to influence their investigation. Some Conservative lawmakers say they will push for a no-confidence vote if Johnson is found to be at serious fault. Gray didn’t criticize Johnson directly but did say, “there is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across government.” By taking it easy on Johnson, Gray likely gave him a reprieve, at least a temporary one. “It’s a mess,” said Will Walden, a former Johnson aide. “It’s probably bad for democracy, but inadvertently good for the PM.” It isn’t clear if the whole report from the police investigation will be released when it is finished. Johnson may be interviewed for that investigation and may face a fine if found guilty of breaching the law. He promises to shape up and fly right now.

Johnson said he would announce steps in the coming days about other improvements, including to mend the “vital connection between Number 10 and Parliament.”

“I get it — and I will fix it,” he said. “I know what the issue is, it is whether this Government can be trusted to deliver and I say yes we can.”

Theresa May threw Johnson under the bus.

Theresa May MP, Johnson’s predecessor, said the public “had a right to expect their prime minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules” but that Downing Street was not following regulations it expected others to follow.

Labour MPs erupted as she added: “Either my right honourable friend had not read the rules, or didn’t understand the rules, or didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10: Which was it?”

However Johnson shrugged of his one-time boss, saying she must wait for the conclusion of the police investigation.

We’ve seen this kind of arrogance from our betters in elected office and other privileged human beings from the beginning of the pandemic on both sides of the pond. The rules are for the little people, not those who are making them. It’s right that Boris is being held accountable.

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