Paul Holmes said he was “distressed” that his work for his constituency was being “tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated No10”. He handed in his resignation as a Home Office Parliamentary Private Secretary, the lowest Governmental position, this morning.
The Eastleigh MP said he was “shocked and angered” by the behaviour described as having taken place in Sue Gray’s report into lockdown gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic.
The senior civil servant’s investigation found a number of rule-breaking parties had taken place while the country was in Covid lockdown, with examples of staff having thrown up, wine being split up the walls, and cleaners and security staff subjected to “a lack of respect”.
In a statement released on his website, Mr Holmes said: “It is clear to me that a deep mistrust in both the Government and the Conservative Party has been created by these events, something that pains me personally as someone who always tries to represent Eastleigh and its people with integrity.
“Whether that is taking up your issues in Parliament or helping people with their problems closer to home, since 2019 we have completed over 12,000 pieces of constituency casework.
“It is distressing to me that this work on your behalf has been tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated No10.
“Over the last few weeks this distress has led me to conclude that I want to continue to focus solely on my efforts in being your Member of Parliament and the campaigns that are important to you.
“That is why I have now resigned from my governmental responsibilities as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Home Office.”
Mr Holmes is the first member of the Government to quit since the Sue Gray report was published.
While his statement was critical of No10, he did not clarify if he was calling on Mr Johnson to resign.
Four Tory MPs so far have gone public following the publication of the Partygate report to urge the Prime Minister to step aside.
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Julian Sturdy, John Baron, Stephen Hammond and David Simmonds have all said the findings have made Mr Johnson’s position untenable.
Added to those who had previously urged the Tory leader to quit, 21 Conservative MPs have gone public with their demands.
If 15 percent of the parliamentary party – 54 MPs – submit letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson, a vote on his future must be held.
While some Tories have been vocal in criticising the Prime Minister for overseeing the Partygate saga in No10, a large number have also rallied around him and urged him to get on with delivering on his legislative agenda.
On Wednesday Mr Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for what had taken place inside No10 and apologised in the House of Commons.
News of Mr Holmes’ resignation today came while the Prime Minister was on a visit to Stockton-on-Tees, where he met fibre cable laying trainees.
Asked by reporters if he was confident he has enough support within his party, he said: “Yes, but I think I gave some pretty vintage and exhaustive answers on all that subject the other day in the House of Commons and then in a subsequent press conference.”
The publication of Ms Gray’s report followed the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Hillman investigation into parties in No 10 and Whitehall.
Scotland Yard handed out 126 fines for rule breaches in Government, with the Prime Minister receiving a single fixed-penalty notice for his birthday gathering in June 2020.