Monday, February 26

Downing Street parties were ‘inappropriate’ and a ‘mistake of leadership and judgement’, UK Government report says

The behavior that surrounded the parties during the pandemic in Downing Street, the residence and official office of the British Prime Minister, is “difficult to justify” and there were “errors of leadership and judgment”, according to an expected report of the investigation in charge. of the senior official Sue Gray, who sought to determine if the Executive violated the strict restrictions imposed to contain the virus and is considered to be crucial for Boris Johnson’s future in office.

Sue Gray, the official who investigates the parties of the Government of Boris Johnson

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“At least some of the meetings in question represent a serious breach not only of the high standards expected of those working within the Government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time,” it reads. the published document this Monday. The report, however, is brief and Gray advances that the conclusions drawn about the events, many of which are the subject of a police investigation, are general.

The events and parties organized in government buildings and Downing Street during the harsh restrictions that limited contact with other people and were respected by citizens have been incessantly uncovered by the press From United Kingdom. From the first revelations, Johnson has repeatedly denied that the rules were broken. The scandal has provoked the anger of the British public opinion and has put on the ropes Leader tory, with the opposition and some conservatives demanding his resignation in recent weeks.

The meetings investigated by Gray are spread over a period of 20 months. They are a fortnight of events between May 15, 2020 and April 16, 2021, in Downing Street and other government offices. “Sometimes it seems that too little thought was given to what was happening across the country when considering the desirability of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health, and the way they might appear to the public. There were errors of leadership and judgment by different parts of Number 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.”

“Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to proceed as they did,” says the document, which also indicates that “excessive” alcohol consumption “is not appropriate in a professional workplace in no time” and calls for action to ensure that there is a clear and robust policy in this regard.

Gray’s text also notes that the garden at 10 Downing Street was often used “as an extension of the workplace, as a safer means of holding group meetings in a ventilated space.” “This was a sensible move that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used for meetings without clear authorization or supervision. This was not appropriate.”

The document emphasizes that “the holding of some of these meetings should not have been allowed” and concludes that, from these events, “an important lesson can be learned that must be addressed immediately by the entire Government”, without it being “necessary to wait to conclude the police investigations”.

Johnson: “I’ll fix it”

All eyes in the United Kingdom have been on Gray’s report for days, whose publication -and the details it provided about the responsibility of the head of government- is considered to depend on the near future of Johnson, who in recent weeks has insistently asked to wait for the findings of the investigation.

Shortly after the publication of the report, the Prime Minister spoke in the House of Commons, beginning his speech by apologizing “for the things that we simply did not do well” and “for the way this matter has been handled”. He has also assured that he accepts the conclusions. “We must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn.”

Johnson has said that he understands the anger people feel and that “just saying sorry is not enough.” He has announced changes to the management of Downing Street and the Cabinet – including the creation of a Prime Minister’s office – said it is time to review the civil service code of conduct and promised more announcements in the coming days to improve the functioning of the Government. “I understand and I will fix it.”

The prime minister has faced strong criticism from MPs. Labor Party leader Keir Starmer has again called for Johnson’s resignation after the report, which includes the most damning conclusion possible, he opined. But he will not do it because, he snapped, “he is a man without shame.” Former Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Gray’s report shows that Downing Street was not up to the rules, asking Johnson if he hadn’t read them, or didn’t understand them, or thought they didn’t apply to him. Johnson has responded that that is not what the report says.

An expected report

Johnson had received the results of the investigation Monday morning ahead of publication, but it was unclear how comprehensive the report would be. The use of the word “update” by the official source that announced the delivery of the report suggested, in the opinion of the British press, that the document is not the final version nor does it contain all the official’s findings during her investigation, leave out the most controversial and damaging details for the leader tory, They are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police. So it has been.

Labor has asked Johnson in Parliament whether he will publish Sue Gray’s report in full once the police investigation is complete, but the prime minister has dodged the question. Downing Street has since issued a statement saying that once the police investigation is complete, Gray will have the opportunity to update his findings and they will be published.

The report was scheduled to see the light of day last week, but plans were altered after the opening of a police investigation into the events. The security forces asked Gray to make “minimal allusions” in the text to the events on which the investigations are focused, so it was possible that his conclusions did not include for the moment the most controversial aspects of the scandal, which are precisely the ones that can hurt Johnson the most.

Gray makes it clear that his intention was to produce a more complete report. “As a result of investigations by the Metropolitan Police, and in order not to prejudice the police investigation process, I have been told that only minimal reference to meetings on the dates they are investigating would be appropriate. Unfortunately, this necessarily means that I am very I am limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at this time to provide an in-depth report that sets out and analyzes the extensive factual information that I have been able to gather.”

“I considered whether it would be best to pause … and wait until the conclusion of the police investigation before publishing anything. However, given the widespread public interest and concern over these matters, and to avoid further delay, I am providing an update of the investigation and I now present some general conclusions”. Once the collected material is delivered to the Police, Gray says that it will guarantee the “safe storage and custody of all the information collected until such time as it may be required.” And he adds: “I will not circulate the information internally within the Government.”

On January 12, the Prime Minister apologized in the House of Commons for having attended a party in May 2020 in Downing Street Gardens, although he argued that he believed it was a “work meeting” and that he was barely present “25 minutes”. Johnson has also apologized to the royal family after it was made public that the day before the funeral of the queen’s husband, Philip of Edinburgh, in full national mourning and in the midst of anti-COVID rules, two farewell parties were held in government offices.

The delay in the publication of the results has given the leader a momentary respite tory, which is fighting to regain control of the political agenda by giving visibility to its response to the crisis in Ukraine and announcing social measures. As the days go by, speculation about the possibility of reaching the threshold of 54 Conservative deputies requesting an internal motion against their leadership in writing has died down.

With information from agencies.