Minister rants about Starmer’s ‘insane’ Sue Gray hiring

LBC: Starmer quizzed on when he approached Sue Gray

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A senior minister has privately described the attempt by Sir Keir Starmer to employ senior civil servant Sue Gray as his chief of staff as “insane.” His comment came ahead of an urgent question on his appointment by former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland in the Commons.

Ministers close to Rishi Sunak who fear an attempt to bring Boris Johnson back are worried that the scandal involving Ms Gray will bring an end to the inquiry into the former Prime Minister.

Already a petition is running calling for the Privileges Committee hearings into whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament to be dropped because Ms Gray is the central witness.

A number of “pro-Boris MPs” are also echoing the demands and a speech Mr Johnson made attacking Mr Sunak on Brexit and his Northern Ireland deal have heightened worries about a potential coup.

A senior minister close to Mr Sunak told that “the whole situation is insane.”

The minister went on: “We will have to listen to all the GB News conspiracy theory nutters about Boris Johnson now for 18 months after what Starmer has done.”

The minister added: “Of course this has nothing to do with the Partygate inquiries and should not affect it whatever some of my colleagues claim.”

But they also questioned whether Ms Gray had followed the rules.

“She would have had to have asked permission her permenant secretary and the Prime Minister for permission and I very much doubt she did that.”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has granted the urgent question after dozens of Tory MPs put in an application for one amid outrage that a senior Whitehall figure who has access to government secrets and plans should be able to join a political party.

The issue has raised serious doubts into the inquiry in Boris Johnson and Partygate with Ms Gray the author of the report into what happened.

However, it also has a serious constitutional implication because civil servants are supposed to be impartial so ministers are free to speak to them.

This morning Starmer insisted that Ms Gray “is not a friend” and that there was “nothing improper” about the appointment.

However, he has refused to say when he started talks with Ms Gray about her taking the job.

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