Tory MP Paul Holmes has resigned as an aide to Home Secretary Priti Patel, saying the Sue Gray report into Partygate has exposed a “deep mistrust” in government.
Mr Holmes’ departure is the third government resignation over the Partygate affair and the first since the publication of the civil servant’s final report into Covid rule-breaking parties in Downing Street.
The Eastleigh MP said it was clear a “toxic culture [seems] to have permeated Number 10.” But he did not call for Boris Johnson’s removal as prime minister or indicate that he would send a letter of no confidence in his leadership to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
In a statement on his website, Mr Holmes said the fallout from the Partygate scandal has been “distressing.”
“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,” he wrote.
He said that work done by MPs on behalf of their constituencies had been “tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated Number 10”.
Mr Holmes’ resignation as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) in the Home Office adds to the pressure on Mr Johnson, after a predicted wave of no-confidence letters failed to materialise in the immediate wake of the Gray report’s publication.
Just four Tory MPs – Julian Sturdy, David Simmonds, John Baron and Stephen Hammond – have declared that they no longer support the PM following the report’s finding of a “failure of leadership” at No 10, while a fifth, Angela Richardson, said that she would have resigned if she was the subject of similar criticism.
Ms Richardson quit as a PPS in January following Ms Gray’s interim report, while Lord Wolfson resigned as a justice minister in April after Mr Johnson received a £50 police fine for attending a lockdown-busting birthday party in 10 Downing Street in 2020.
Mr Holmes entered parliament in 2019 with a comfortable majority in the Hampshire seat of Eastleigh, which had been Liberal Democrat until the 2015 election.