Labour leader appoints lockdown party scandal investigator as chief of staff

Labour leader appoints lockdown party scandal investigator as chief of staff

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has appointed Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who led the investigation into lockdown parties in Downing Street, as his chief of staff.

Gray, who had been the second permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, became a household name during the partygate scandal when she authored a report which found “a failure of leadership and judgement” in Number 10 during Boris Johnson’s premiership.

The appointment comes after Sam White was dismissed as Sir Keir’s chief of staff, and amid concerns about the Labour leader’s relatively inexperienced team.

Allies of Sir Keir told Sky News that a candidate for the chief of staff post who knows how to operate at the highest level of government is essential.

Gray’s new job will need to be checked by the watchdog Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which oversees new jobs for former ministers and senior civil servants.

Her fearsome reputation in Whitehall comes from having served as the key enforcer of ministerial behaviour as Head of Propriety and Ethics in the Cabinet Office between 2012 and 2018.

The Gray report was one of a series of scandals which led ultimately to Boris Johnson leaving office under pressure from MPs from his own party.

However, Johnson claimed on Thursday that when he was forced out as prime minister, the Tories were “only a handful of points” behind Labour in the polls.

The latest YouGov/Times voting intention poll puts the Conservatives on 23 percent of the vote to Labour’s 46 percent. Nadine Dorries, a keen ally of the former PM, claimed on Twitter that the Gray report was a stitch up of the PM and civil servants.

Former Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, claimed that the Gray report now looks like a left-wing stitch-up against a Tory prime minister.

In his first major speech in Britain since being ousted from office, Johnson urged his successor not to slash corporation tax to “outbid the Irish” and to “do things differently” so as not to betray the ideals of Brexit.

He also raised a number of concerns about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, saying it “is not about the UK taking back control.”

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