I was not willing to vote for the Prime Minister in today’s Confidence vote.
It has been over six months since the "Partygate" allegations first emerged and then the Civil Service inquiry led by Sue Gray was announced. Although, like most people, I formed a view over the allegations, I stated that I would not make any public pronouncements about the PM’s future until the completion of the report when all the facts could be fully established. Then there was the Police investigation, leading both to an Interim-only Gray Report being produced and to the Prime Minister receiving a Fixed Penalty Notice.
The Sue Gray Report has now been published in full and my initial conclusions were unfortunately confirmed in it. It was my intention to offer a fuller commentary upon it this week as the Recess and Jubilee celebrations ended but this has in some senses been superseded by the calling of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Although I had not submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, the calling of a Confidence vote requires me to take a stand. Although it is a secret ballot, I have taken the view that I ought to be open and clear about my decision.
I have been bitterly disappointed and dismayed at the erosion of public trust in Government and the Civil Service that this sorry affair has caused, especially with the great pressing problems of inflation, rising energy costs and a major war in Europe to contend with. The issues of being straight with Parliament and of adhering to the Ministerial Code have also had a significant bearing. Everyone makes mistakes and often they should be allowed to move on, but an ingrained pattern of behaviour and a culture that has developed around it is a different matter. It is not just about ‘a party’ or ‘work related events’ etc.
It is clear to me that this issue in terms of its wider implications will not go away and so I was not able to support the Prime Minister in the confidence vote today, even in the knowledge that he would probably win the vote.
I took the view that public trust and integrity must be restored and the Prime Minister should consider his position in light of this.