Following today’s publication of the Sue Gray report into Downing Street and Whitehall lockdown parties, Luke said:
“The Sue Gray report published today makes for concerning reading. It shows that the Prime Minister attended multiple parties and there was a culture of drinking, rule-breaking, cover up and, I believe, deception in Downing Street. Now we know Downing Street is the most fined address in the country for lockdown breaches – 126 fines including the Prime Minister and Chancellor – there can be no hiding from the responsibility for this. The Prime Minister broke the law, he lied about it time and time again and he should resign.
“It is now perfectly clear that the Prime Minister lied to the public and he lied to Parliament. The repeated lies, deception and cover up should shame any Prime Minister from office, but so low now are the standards within Government that not a single Minister has resigned and the PM who partied, was fined, and lied about it has kept his job.
“I have called for South West Conservative MPs to submit letters of no-confidence in the Prime Minister. Some, like Sir Gary Streeter, have done, but most have not. I simply cannot understand how they can defend the indefensible. I know many good decent Tory MPs, who disagree with me on policy, but who I believe to have integrity who are utterly lost. They know there is not enough support within their party to remove Boris Johnson – but Britain deserves better than this rotten mess.
“It has been clear to me that policies have been announced by Government for the sole intention of saving the Prime Minister’s job. Even the paltry help announced today was timed to help the PM, not the households struggling during the largest cost-of-living crisis in a generation. It is utterly shameful and shows why we need fresh leadership for the country.
“I firmly believe integrity and decency matters in public life. Everyone can make mistakes, but we are not talking about an honestly made mistake here, we are talking about a culture of deception, lies and a tone set from the top that there is one rule for them and one rule for everyone else.
“I was staggered to read in the Sue Gray report that those drunk and partying abused cleaning staff and security who warned the PM’s staff that these parties were illegal and wrong – and then left them to clean up the vomit and the red wine thrown against walls. It stinks.
“During the pandemic the Prime Minister, correctly, asked us all to make huge sacrifices to save lives. I lost a family member in a care home to COVID and many people in our city were stopped from seeing dying relatives or attending funerals. At the very same time as people were stepping up in incredible ways to help others, putting their own health on the line as key workers, the Prime Minister and his team in Downing Street were wheeling wine into the building in suitcases and getting drunk into the early hours (one party went on until 4.20am according to the Sue Gray report). I find it utterly staggering that the Prime Minister is still in office.
“Not all politicians are the same. Although, I can see entirely why the Government wants to suggest otherwise. Bringing everyone into the gutter with the PM helps him stay in office. Throwing mud at others is part of the Number 10 strategy, but it just debases our politics and the proud traditions of public service. The truth is: honour, integrity, decency and leadership matters.
“The seven Nolan principles of public life matter: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. They should be enshrined in everything Government and Parliament does.
“We need proper change to ensure that the arrogance and lies told by the current Prime Minister are an aberration in our politics, not the new standard we should expect from our leaders. Those who defend the PM, who excuse his law breaking, who seek to divert the public’s gaze from their wrong doing should look long and hard at themselves. Humility is not a trait I see a lot of in the Government sadly.
“Since being elected in 2017 I have tried to do politics differently. I haven’t got everything right, but my focus has been to include more people in decisions, to break down barriers and to be honest and authentic. The illegal lockdown parties in Downing Street have shocked and appalled the public. British people have every right to hold politicians to high standards, and when they fall short of them, they should face consequences.
“It is clear to me that the Prime Minister puts his personal survival in office above the values of our country. I am appalled by his actions and disappointed in those who defend the widespread criminality in Downing Street. In no other walk of life would this be tolerated. Not in the NHS, our armed forces, business or education. So why is it acceptable in politics? I don’t think it is.
“I will keep pressing for better. Parliament and Government should be the model of best behaviour, of innovation and decency. Public service is an honour and a privilege and trust must be restored in our system. Politics remains the best way of achieving change, but what a murky government we currently have. Britain really does deserve better.”