Johnson Refuses to Step Down and Pledges Change Following Interim 'Partygate' Report

© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS / British PM Boris Johnson in Downing StreetBritish PM Boris Johnson in Downing Street
British PM Boris Johnson in Downing Street - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2022
Sue Gray's interim report into the 16 alleged staff parties over 20 months at Downing Street was short on specifics but long on criticisms of how Downing Street is run, but that did not stop opposition leaders claiming PM Boris Johnson was under police investigation or had even lied and misled Parliament.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged changes at the heart of government following the release of an "update" on the "Partygate" probe.
Johnson issued an apology for the affair in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon — and promised reforms to Downing Street and the Cabinet Office to address her criticisms. "I get it and I will fix it", he said.

"Firstly I want to say sorry", Johnson said. "I am sorry for the things we simply didn't get right and sorry for the way this matter has been handled".

"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", he added.
"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", Johnson said
He said it was time to sort out what Gray "rightly calls the fragmented and complicated leadership structures of Downing Street".
He pledged to create an "Office of the Prime Minister" with its own permanent secretary.
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But opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer repeated his demand for Johnson to resign, claiming: "There can be no doubt that the prime minister is now subject to criminal investigation".

"Rather than clean, every step of the way he has insulted the public's intelligence", Starmer charged.

Johnson hit back that the report contained "nothing to substantiate the tissue of nonsense he has just spoken", adding that as former director of public prosecutions, Starmer had "spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile."
Scottish National Party Ian Blackford went further and openly claimed Johnson had "lied and misled the house" — prompting speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle expel him from the house after Blackford repeatedly refused the speaker's demand he withdraw the remark.
More drama ensued when one of Johnson's own Conservative backbenchers, Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, said "I have to tell him he no longer enjoys my support".
But other Tory MPs spoke up in the PM's favour — albeit with caveats and criticisms.
Johnson repeatedly dodged attempts, including from his own benches, to make him commit to publishing Gray's full 70-page report when it is eventually released — along with a string of questions over the report's hint that there was a party at the prime ministerial flat on November 13 2020.
But later Downing Street said it would be published in full once the police inquiry was completed.
"Given the police have said they are investigating a number of events, it would not be appropriate to comment further while the Met’s investigation is ongoing," Johnson's spokesperson said. "But, at the end of the process, the prime minister will ask Sue Gray to update her work in light of what is found. He will publish that update."
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