Tory MP resigns from government with scathing rebuke over Downing Street’s ‘toxic culture’

Paul Holmes quit his junior role as PPS at the Home Office, saying the Sue Gray report’s revelations on the treatment of Cleaners No10 were “disappointing and unacceptable”.

Paul Holmes on a previous visit to Boris Johnson
Paul Holmes on a previous visit to Boris Johnson

A Tory MP resigned from government today with a scathing rebuke over “toxic culture” at a Downing Street party.

Paul Holmes resigned from his junior role as Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Home Office after being “disturbed” by Sue Gray’s revelations that cleaners and security guards were not respected.

Unlike more than 20 Tory MPs, he did not publicly call for Boris Johnson’s resignation in today’s statement, instead saying the Prime Minister “deserves great credit” for his work on Covid.

But Priti Patel’s aide wrote: “Revelations from Sue Gray’s report that staff and cleaners were not treated properly are both disappointing and unacceptable.

“It is correct that the PM has apologized to the staff.

“It clearly showed a culture in Number 10 that was distasteful and I’m glad there have been several reforms that Sue Gray has welcomed.

“I realize that these events have created a deep distrust in both the government and the Conservative Party, which pains me personally as someone who always seeks to represent Eastleigh and its people with integrity.

“Whether it’s taking up your issues in Parliament or helping people with their problems closer to home, we’ve completed over 12,000 constituency casework since 2019.

“It worries me that this work for you has been marred by the toxic culture that Number 10 seemed to permeate.

“That hardship has led me to the conclusion over the past few weeks that I wish to continue to focus solely on my efforts as your MP and the campaigns that are important to you.

“That is why I have now resigned my government duties as Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior.”

PPSs are the bottom rung of the ladder to becoming a minister. They are part of the government, but not ministers themselves.

Sue Gray’s report provided damning insight into how Cleaners No. 10 were treated (file photo)


AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Holmes’ Eastleigh seat was previously held by the Lib Dems, although he won a majority of 15,607 over the party in 2019.

Mr Holmes announced his resignation shortly after Boris Johnson told reporters he was confident he had enough backing within his party to survive.

It would take 54 letters of no confidence from Conservative leaders to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Tory leader. But supporters claimed no one broke ranks to publicly attack him during a Backbench 1922 committee meeting on Wednesday.

Four Tory MPs have spoken out on calls for Mr Johnson’s resignation following the release of Sue Gray’s damning inquest report this week.

Former Minister Stephen Hammond said he could not and would not defend the untenable when he suggested he had tabled a letter officially calling for a vote of no confidence.

But Mr Johnson told reporters during a visit to Stockton-on-Tees, where he met trainees laying fiber optic cables, that he is confident he has enough support within his party.

“Yes, but I think I gave some pretty old and exhaustive answers on all this the other day in the House of Commons and then in a subsequent press conference,” he said when asked by broadcasters.

He tried to further deflect questions as he pressed why he tolerated the culture, which saw staff drink so much they got sick, get into arguments, and security and cleaning staff were abused.

“If you look at the replies in the House of Commons for more than two hours, I think you will be able to see that I have answered that very, very extensively,” Mr Johnson said.

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