Sue Gray will notify the government’s watchdog when job talks with Labour begin.

Sue Gray will notify the government’s watchdog when job talks with Labour begin.

Following Tory outrage over the proposed move, ex-senior civil servant Sue Gray will tell the government appointments watchdog when she first discussed becoming Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.

On Monday, Ms Gray will approach the watchdog about her new position.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth told that the job offer demonstrated his party’s commitment to being in government.

However, some Conservatives have argued that the move undermines the impartiality of the civil service.

Ms Gray resigned from her position at the levelling up department on Thursday, after reports surfaced that she was interested in working for Labour.

Jonathan Ashworth, shadow work and pensions secretary, was repeatedly asked on the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme when Ms Gray was offered the job.

He declined to respond directly, but stated that Sir Keir had been looking for a new chief of staff for “several weeks” and that Ms Gray was “always going to be on the list.” According to a Labour source, “‘on the list’ does not mean ‘in talks.'”

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Sir Keir’s adviser added, “Despite having crossed paths professionally, they are not friends or part of the same social circles.

“In contrast, Sue was on Keir’s list of potential candidates because he thought her experience and integrity would be valuable assets to the team.

Naturally, the rules state that talking to the opposition requires the approval of secretaries of state.

Labour’s opponents will continue to poke at the issue until the “hows” and “whens” of their contacts are clarified.

‘Generally truthful’
Ms Gray published a damning report on lockdown gatherings in Downing Street while Boris Johnson was prime minister last year.

Mr Johnson stated earlier this week that her report may be viewed “in a different light” now.

According to Labour, Ms Gray was not approached about the job until her Partygate report was published.

Mr Johnson is currently the subject of a separate investigation, led by a cross-party group of MPs, into whether he misled Parliament when he stated that Covid rules had not been broken in Downing Street.

The MPs said in an initial report released on Friday that the evidence they had seen “strongly suggests” Covid rule violations would have been “obvious” to Mr Johnson.

Johnson was, however, described as “generally an honest man” by Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, a close ally of the former prime minister.

He did not believe Mr Johnson had “knowingly misled Parliament,” according to Laura Kuenssberg.
When asked if this was the government’s position, he responded: “I don’t believe there is an official position in the government. There is a parliamentary procedure in place. And I believe we will wait to see what comes of the parliamentary process.”

Watch this media caption: “In general, he (Boris Johnson) is a good man.” – Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris

I’m confident that Keir can quickly resolve the situation by stating that this was the topic of our previous conversation and that there is nothing to see in this situation.

Senior civil servants and ministers are expected to consult the government watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), before accepting any job within two years of leaving government.

The body can offer advice, such as recommending a waiting period before taking on a new role, but it has no authority to prevent new appointments.

Labour has already stated that they will follow any recommendations made by Acoba.

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