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UK ministerial aide quits over Partygate scandal

LONDON — A ministerial aide has quit blaming “deep mistrust” in the wake of a damning report about lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Paul Holmes resigned his post as an assistant to Home Secretary Priti Patel, arguing his work for constituents in his Eastleigh seat had been “tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated No 10.”

The report by top civil servant Sue Gray detailed multiple parties in No. 10 with aides drinking and revelling late into the night. Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended some of the gatherings and gave leaving speeches.

In a statement on his website, Holmes said he was “shocked and angered” by Gray’s findings. “It is clear to me that a deep mistrust in both the government and the Conservative Party has been created by these events,” he added, noting that he would prefer to continue work as a backbench MP.

Four other Conservative MPs have joined calls for Johnson to resign over the scandal since the report came out — but there is no expectation he will face a confidence vote in the near future.

But speaking to reporters on Friday, the prime minister said he was confident colleagues would continue to back him.

Johnson meanwhile dashed hopes he would give his ethics adviser the power to launch investigations into prime ministerial conduct. And he tweaked the ministerial code to note that ministers need not resign for minor rule breaches.

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