Sir Keir Starmer has defended his appointment of Sue Gray as his new chief of staff.
The Labor leader’s decision to hire the former senior civil servant for the role – revealed by Sky News – has caused outrage among sectors of the Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson claimed he would have “invited her to reflect on whether she was really the right person” to look into gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic.
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but Sir Keir explained his choice, saying that if his party wins the next election they “won’t be forgiven if we’re not prepared for government.”
He added: “We’re going to inherit a very badly damaged country, damaged economy, damaged public services.
“I want to ensure that we’re in a position to deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom, and that’s why I’m so pleased that people of real quality, really respected [are] delighted to want to join the Labor team”.
The Labor leader said he is “very well aware” that his party has “got to earn every vote” ahead of the next general election – likely to take place in summer 2024.
Ms Gray’s appointment will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) watchdog.
The body will make a recommendation to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and it is likely that Ms Gray will have to take a period of gardening leave before starting work with Sir Keir.
Ms Gray resigned from the civil service earlier this week, with her IT access and door pass being cancelled.
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Conservative MPs are furious, especially those close to Boris Johnson.
Kit Malthouse, who was policing minister under Mr Johnson and also worked with him during his time as London Mayor, wrote a letter to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case earlier today.
In the letter, Mr Malthouse raised 13 points that he thinks should be investigated following the appointment.
Mr Malthouse asked if the “premature announcement” of Sue Gray’s appointment by Labor “breaks the ACOBA rules”.
He’s also wanted to know how long a period of gardening leave – if it were to be recommended – would cost the taxpayer.
Mr Malthouse also wanted to know if there will be any restriction “imposed on her passing on official information to the Labor Party from her time in government”.