“Mr Speaker, with permission I would like to make a statement.
First I want to express my deepest gratitude to Sue Gray, and all the people who have contributed to this report, which I have placed in the Library of this House and the government has published in full today, for everyone to read.
I will address its findings in this statement – but firstly I want to say: sorry. Sorry for the things we simply did not get right and sorry for the way that this matter has been handled. It is no use saying that this or that was within the rules. It is no use saying that people were working hard.
This pandemic was hard for everyone. We asked people across this country to make the most extraordinary sacrifices, not to meet loved ones, not to visit relatives before they died, and I understand the anger that people feel.
But, Mr Speaker, it is not enough to say sorry. This is a moment when we must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn. And while the Metropolitan Police must yet complete their investigation – and that means there are no details of specific events in Sue Gray’s report – I, of course, accept Sue Gray’s general findings in full, and above all her recommendation that we must learn from these events and act now.
With respect to the events under police investigation, she says – and I quote – “No conclusions should be drawn, or inferences made from this other than it is now for the police to consider the relevant material in relation to those incidents.”
But more broadly she finds that – “There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government. This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”
That is why we are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run so that we can get on with the job, the job that I was elected to do and that this government was elected to do.
First, it is time to sort out what Sue Gray rightly calls the “fragmented and complicated” leadership structures of Downing Street which she says have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of the expansion of Number Ten.
And we will do that, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister, with a Permanent Secretary to lead Number ten. Second, Mr Speaker, it is clear from Sue Gray’s report that it is time not just to review the Civil Service and Special Adviser codes of conduct wherever necessary to ensure they take account of Sue Gray’s recommendations but also to make sure those codes are properly enforced.
And third, I will be saying more in the coming days about the steps we will take to improve the Number ten operation and the work of the Cabinet Office to strengthen Cabinet Government and to improve the vital connection between Number ten and parliament.
Mr Speaker, I get it and I will fix it. And I want to say to the people of this country. I know what the issue is, it is whether this government can be trusted to deliver and I say yes we can be trusted yes we can be trusted to deliver.
We said we would deliver Brexit and we did. We are setting up freeports across the whole United Kingdom, I’ve been to one of them today, which is creating tens of thousands of new jobs Mr Speaker.
We said we would get this country through Covid and we did, we delivered the fastest vaccine roll out in Europe and the fastest booster programme of any major economy so that we have been able to restore people’s freedoms faster than any comparable economy and at the same time as we have been cutting crime by fourteen per cent and building 40 new hospitals and rolling out gigabit broadband, and delivering on all the other promises of that 2019 agenda so that we have the fastest economic growth in the G7.
We have shown that we can do things people thought were impossible and that we can deliver for the British people.
The reason we are coming out of Covid so fast is at least partly because we doubled the speed of the booster rollout and I can tell the House and this country, that we are going to bring the same energy and commitment to getting on with the job to delivering for the British people and to our mission to unite and level up across the country.
And I commend this Statement to the House.