Andrea Leadsom blames Boris Johnson for 'unacceptable failings of leadership' over Partygate scandal in wake of Sue Gray report

County MP stops short of call for leadership challenge, but warns it is up to individual Tories to ‘decide what is the right course of action’

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 12:34 pm

Northamptonshire MP, Dame Andrea Leadsom, says Boris Johnson is to blame for "unacceptable failings of leadership that cannot be tolerated" over the Partygate scandal.

The former business secretary stopped short of calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation or a leadership contest in her statement to South Northants constituents on Tuesday (May 31).

But she warned: “Each of my Conservative MP colleagues and I must now decide individually on what is the right course of action that will restore confidence in our government.”

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County MP Andrea Leadsom says PM Boris Johnson has been guilty of "unacceptable failings of leadership" during the Partygate scandal

The PM received one of 126 fines over breaching lockdown rules in Downing Street and last week’s damning report by the senior civil servant warned "the senior leadership responsibility.”

But, after carefully studying Sue Gray’s report, Ms Leadsom said: "it is painfully clear to me that given the extent and severity of rule-breaking taking place over a 20-month period, it is extremely unlikely that senior leaders were unaware of what was going on."

“I therefore, agree with Sue Gray's conclusions that there have been significant failures of leadership, both political and official, in No 10 and the Cabinet Office.

“The conclusion I have drawn from the Sue Gray report is that there have been unacceptable failings of leadership that cannot be tolerated."

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The Sue Gray report in full

The report set out details of 15 events where officials spilled red wine on walls of No 10, vomited, got into a fight, used a karaoke machine, and continued festivities until 4am while the country was subject to strict curbs on socialising.

In a series of statements, the PM said he had attended “work events” to boost morale.

Ms Leadsom said it was clear the PM was personally shocked by the reports findings, adding: “It was right that he humbly apologised to the nation and to all those who lost loved ones.

"He also apologised to support staff who were treated disrespectfully by certain staff, whose behaviour was particularly abhorrent and unacceptable.

“I note that the thorough investigation by the Metropolitan Police concluded that rule breaking by the prime minister personally was limited to a surprise birthday party organised for him. This confirms the prime minister’s statement that he was not personally involved in any lockdown breaches.

“I believe in the importance of high standards of integrity, and that Members of Parliament must strive to be good role models, very specifically because we are the lawmakers and therefore in a trusted position of power and authority.

"I am determined to be clear about my views as a matter of personal integrity. The conclusion I have drawn is there have been unacceptable failings of leadership that cannot be tolerated and are the responsibility of the prime minister.”

Neither of Northampton’s two MPs, Michael Ellis and Andrew Lewer, have been seen offering any public support for the PM since last week’s revelations.

Daventry’s Chris Heaton-Harris, who was promoted to chief whip in December, tweeted: “There are many issues our country faces and Parliament needs to look outwards and address those.

“Our PM is a man who has consistently got the big calls right and will continue to do so.”