LONDON — Keir Starmer is reportedly considering hiring Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who investigated pandemic rule-busting parties in Boris Johnson’s government, as his chief of staff.
Neither Labour or the Cabinet Office denied a report by Sky News’ that the Labour leader — who current polls suggest could well become the U.K.’s next prime minister — is considering appointing Gray to the gig.
Gray, currently in a top job in the Cabinet Office, served a long stretch as the department’s “propriety and ethics” chief and was once referred to by a senior minister as the person who really “runs Britain.” She was tasked with investigating multiple reports of lockdown rule-breaking at the heart of Johnson’s administration in the so-called “Partygate” scandal, and produced a damning report on her findings.
A Labour spokesperson said only: “The process is ongoing, nobody has been offered the job.” Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds told Sky’s Sophy Ridge, “I’m not going to comment on any HR matter,” but added “we’re finding very many people from a whole range of different walks of life who are now wanting to connect with the Labour Party.”
The report has already sparked fury from senior Conservatives, who told POLITICO’s London Playbook that they now questioned Gray’s motives. They pointed out her lockdown parties report was a factor in Johnson’s eventual downfall. One senior Tory said: “This is a staggering revelation which the cabinet secretary needs to fully investigate. And not the usual whitewash — a proper investigation as this calls into question the impartiality of the civil service.”
Responding, one Labour official — again not denying the story — said: “I’m shocked, shocked that Playbook was able to find a Tory willing to attack a dedicated public servant.”