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By Bishop of Leeds
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Former Attorney General Says Boris Johnson’s Position Is “Untenable” Over Partygate Allegations


3 min read

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve has called on Tory MPs to remove Boris Johnson “as a matter of ethics in government” following his “dismal” response to the Sue Gray report.

Writing for The House, the former-Tory MP accused Johnson of being “engaged in the displacement activity of a naughty six-year-old” in his response to the damning findings of the report. 

Grieve, who alongside his political career is a successful barrister, added that if Boris Johnson’s arguments in the Commons yesterday relating to the allegations had taken place in a court, he “would not expect a successful outcome”. 

He also warned that the party could lose voters if Johnson stayed in office.

“His future lies in the hands of Conservative MPs who, with notable exceptions, seem paralysed by their responsibility,” wrote Grieve, who served as Attorney General between 2010 and 2014 and was a Tory MP for 22 years.

“Yet they ought to see that as a matter of ethics in government and observance of the ministerial code the Prime Minister’s position is untenable.

“If he is not made to go now, the issue is going to come back again and again as the fuller picture emerges. 

He continued: “Even if they have no understanding of ethics in government, a baser instinct for self-preservation might make them ask themselves why the electorate should forget this dismal performance and the scandal of the background facts.

“There are a lot of loyal Conservatives who are never going to vote for the Party again as long as Boris Johnson remains in office.”

The intervention comes after Boris Johnson apologied to the Commons on Monday following the publication of an update to civil servant Sue Gray's investigation into parties in Downing Street during lockdown. 

In the redacted summary of her findings, Gray accused both Number 10 and the Cabinet Office of "failures of leadership and judgement" over their role in 16 events held between May 2020 and April 2021.

Responding to her claims, the Prime Minister apologised to MPs for “the things we simply didn’t get right” and pledged to overhaul the Downing Street operation.

His performance in the Commons angered many MPs, many of whom said that the report had left Johnson in a vulnerable position. 

Commenting on Johnson’s performance, Grieve said: “He offered to reform the systems of work at Number 10 and the behaviour of others but when pressed about his own behaviour and leadership he engaged in the displacement activity of a naughty six-year-old, reeling off irrelevant lists of unrelated actions in which he might claim credit.”

The former minister also criticised Johnson for “irrelevantly and entirely falsely” claiming that  Labour leader Keir Starmer, who was previously director of public prosecutions, "used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

The claim is false and has been repeatedly debunked. While Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when the decision not to prosecute Savile was made, he was not the lawyer responsible for the decision. The decision was based on police mishandling of evidence.

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