Boris Johnson’s chief of staff ‘too busy’ to go to GMB so didn’t chair

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A senior Tory minister did not chair Good Morning Britain as he was “too busy” to answer questions about the Partygate scandal.

Boris Johnson faces more resignation calls, including from Tory MPs, after Sue Gray’s report on lockdown busting parties was published in No10.

The senior official’s investigation uncovered a boozy culture in Downing Street and Whitehall, with little respect for security guards and cleaning workers.

It included reports of drunken brawls, vomiting, karaoke machines and people partying into the wee hours.

All while ordinary members of the public have faced unprecedented restrictions on their freedoms and being prevented from seeing loved ones due to Covid-19.

Cabinet Secretary Stephen Barclay has the unfortunate task of leading today’s media rounds on behalf of the government.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff was due to appear on GMB at 8.30am – the ITV show’s normal time for ministers.

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A cleaner sweeps outside the door of the British Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street in central London. Sue Gray's Partygate report has revealed how cleaning and security staff at Downing Street were mistreated and treated with disrespect.

Sue Gray said several people had told her about the “unacceptable” treatment of workers at Downing Street (Image: Reuters)

(Left to right) Communities Secretary Michael Gove, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay during a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 24, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Johnson. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal/PA Wire

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay (right) was nowhere to be seen on GMB this morning (Image: PA)

But despite appearing in other media, he decided to miss this particular slot.

GMB presenter Kate Garraway said: “We are joined by Labor’s Lisa Nandy.

“We would like to speak to Stephen Barclay, Downing Street chief of staff. He’s the man – the government minister – we usually talk to them around 8:30.

“He’s too busy this morning, we don’t know why. The chair is there for you, Mr Barclay, if you wish to go and sit on it, we would be delighted to speak to you and hear all your points.’

Co-host Ben Shephard added: “We’re going to squeeze you in because obviously our viewers and everyone at home will want to hear your points, especially today of all days.”

Speaking on Sky News, Barclay said the Prime Minister had apologized to “all staff involved” during the Partygate scandal.

He added: “He left and apologized to the staff, obviously (there are) the shift schedules so it’s a question of what staff was in the building yesterday.”

When asked if Johnson was specifically looking for cleaning staff, Barclay said: “He has been looking for staff to do this. He also came into the house in relation to colleagues.

“And that’s why he made so many changes in response, and Sue Gray acknowledges those changes in the report.”

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Justin Scacco

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