Tory MPs Furious as Gray’s Appointment as Labour Chief of Staff is Pending
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has come under fire from Conservative MPs for allegedly holding secret talks with former civil servant Sue Gray, who led the Whitehall investigation into the Partygate scandal. The discussions took place while Gray was still involved in the investigation, prompting outrage and claims of double standards.
Gray is now set to become Starmer’s chief of staff, pending the outcome of two inquiries into whether her negotiations with the Labour leader violated any rules. A Cabinet Office report is expected to reveal that Gray entered talks with the Labour Party while she was working with the department’s Propriety and Ethics Team (PET). This team was reportedly advising MPs on the privileges committee investigating former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over allegations that he misled Parliament about the lockdown-breaching parties.
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Prominent Conservative MPs and Boris Johnson supporters are incensed over Gray’s potential appointment. Wellingborough MP Peter Bone told GB News, “The whole basis of our civil service is that it is impartial, neutral and that it can serve any party in Government.” He added that Starmer’s actions seem hypocritical and that a move towards a US system of party appointees may be necessary.
A former Number 10 adviser and a Johnson-loyalist also criticised Gray, accusing her of “stunning hypocrisy” and arguing that her actions have brought the entire system of governance into disrepute.
In response, Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds defended the party’s actions, expressing confidence that the right processes were followed. He also suggested that the Conservative government is attempting to make this a story ahead of local elections.
With the report’s findings due to be submitted to the House of Commons, Sue Gray’s appointment as Labour Chief of Staff hangs in the balance. If the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) advises a long “cooling off” period before Gray can join Starmer’s office, it may significantly impact the Labour leader’s plans.