Prime minister promises change in No 10 as police investigate alleged breaches of Covid rules

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BORIS Johnson has promised to make major changes to the way he runs the government as it emerged police are investigating alleged breaches of coronavirus rules at the Prime Minister’s birthday celebration and a gathering in his Downing Street flat.

As he battled to save his leadership, the prime minister apologised in the House of Commons and insisted ‘I get it and I will fix it’ as he faced fresh calls to resign after Sue Gray’s limited inquiry criticised ‘failures of leadership and judgment.’

But Ms Gray’s full investigation into claims of lockdown-busting parties in number 10 and Whitehall has been sidelined while the Metropolitan Police look into 12 separate alleged breaches of the rules in 2020 and 2021.

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Politicians in Portsmouth area call for full Sue Gray report with one condemning...
(Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)(Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

They include events where the prime minister has admitted being present and another in the flat he shares with his wife Carrie Johnson in Downing Street.

Ms Gray’s limited update on the state of her investigation contained little detail, due to the police investigation, but still condemned the culture and leadership which led to the events at a time when most of the population was abiding by Covid-19 restrictions.

In response to mounting pressure from Tory MPs, Downing Street confirmed that Mr Johnson would publish an updated report from Ms Gray once the police investigation has concluded.

The Met is reviewing more than 300 images and over 500 pages of information passed to officers by the Gray inquiry.

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Giving a statement to MPs an hour after the Gray update was published, the Mr Johnson said: ‘Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.

‘It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone.’

He added: ‘I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.’

Mr Johnson insisted he was ‘making changes’ to Downing Street and the cabinet office, including by creating an office of the prime minister with a permanent secretary to lead number 10.

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However, he faced a hostile response from some on his own side and the threat of a vote of no confidence has not yet been defeated.

Former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told Mr Johnson he ‘no longer enjoys my support’ and ex prime minister Theresa May said Mr Johnson either did not ‘read the rules,’ understand them, or ‘didn’t think the rules applied to No 10.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the British public wanted Mr Johnson to resign but the Prime Minister ‘is a man without shame.’

He said: ‘There can be no doubt the Prime Minister himself is now subject to criminal investigation’ but ‘he gleefully treats what should be a mark of shame as a welcome shield.’

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Senior Conservatives including former chief whip Mark Harper joined Sir Keir in calling for a full Gray inquiry to be published.

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