Sue Gray revelations are a hammer blow to all those who sacrificed so much

Boris Johnson seeks to excuse the partying at Downing Street during the pandemic on the basis that staff were working extremely long hours (Vomiting and partying until 4am: Sue Gray delivers damning verdict on Boris Johnson’s No 10, 25 May). I was working throughout the pandemic as a registered nurse in a nursing home. We were also working extremely long hours – only we were doing it swathed from head to foot in plastic, at risk of contracting a potentially fatal disease, but doing the best we could to protect our extremely vulnerable elderly residents.

This was before there was a vaccine, and virtually all the staff contracted Covid. Those of us who didn’t were working extra shifts to cover for those who were off sick, getting home after 8pm and getting up again at 6am to do it all again.

We did not party. We did not drink alcohol at work – we were lucky if we found time for a tea break. We carried on in desperate circumstances because we cared about our residents. Yet despite everything, Covid got into our home, and we had to watch as many residents died. By contrast, it sounds as if many Downing Street staffers saw the situation as a bit of a laugh. We were not laughing.

For Johnson to suggest that it was OK for people in No 10 to break the rules because they were working long hours is insulting and disrespectful to the key workers who were not only working extremely long hours but also putting their lives at risk.

I have no words strong enough to contain the anger I feel about Johnson and his lies and excuses. If Tory MPs allow him to continue as prime minister, they are equally to blame. It is far, far past time for this disgusting man to go.
Andrea Needham
Hastings, East Sussex

I feel I will always cry when I think about lockdown. My elderly parents were anxious about the virus. Several times, Dad said: “We’ll be lucky to survive this.” Sadly, he didn’t. At the start of the pandemic, he fell and broke his hip. My lovely dad died 10 days later after contracting Covid in hospital. The memories of those days are a horrific blur. We said goodbye on the phone, but he was incoherent by then and we will never know what his last words were. The sense of separation from him is like a physical ache even two years on. Grief in isolation was so cruel. I should have been able to hold my mum’s hand at his funeral.

So realising now that No 10 thought that only the public should adhere to the stringent rules is like a hammer blow. It makes a mockery of the sacrifices that families like mine made. The idea that we should focus on the world situation and forget Boris Johnson’s disregard of the rules that he himself set is ridiculous. I can multi-task – I can worry about Ukraine and the energy crisis while still calling for him to resign.
Catherine Jeffery
Wokingham, Berkshire

It was my duty, as a son, to visit my dying mother in hospital, but I could not because of the Covid-19 restrictions. It was my duty, as his only remaining sibling, to visit my dying brother in hospital, but I could not because of the Covid-19 rules. It was my duty, as her father, to visit my daughter as she was dying, but I could not because of the Covid-19 restrictions. I now must apologise to all three that I was not the prime minister at the time – because, if I had been, I could have flouted the rules and visited all three in their time of need.
Tom Moore
Newry, County Down

Boris Johnson apologised to me in parliament on 19 April following your publication of my letter regarding my family obeying the rules when my wife died (Letters, 14 April). I said then that anger didn’t even touch the sides of how I felt when I thought of Johnson’s behaviour and lying. Now we see for ourselves the incontrovertible truth of his lying. No longer can he claim that there were no parties or that no rules were broken. How much longer will his weak ministers and craven MPs support this disgraceful excuse for a prime minister? He knows, they know, we all know, that he has misled parliament about these events. How do I feel about him now? Sick to the stomach.
John Robinson
Lichfield, Staffordshire

I have read that a reason for parties at No 10 was the pressure everyone was under. I understand that pressure. From late September 2001, I worked in New York at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. We worked every day for 15 hours-plus. When things calmed a little, my boss said we might get it down to 12 hours and the odd day off. The next day, the second biggest plane crash in US history hit Queens, New York, and we had a second disaster to deal with.

Number of in-work parties to help with the pressure? Zero. Not Thanksgiving, Christmas, Eid, Hanukah or New Year. Not birthdays or for anyone leaving. Our big boss, the chief medical examiner Dr Charles Hirsch, set the standard. No photos, no talking to the press, no parties. Because he knew how the families of victims would feel. Because it’s about leadership.
Adrian Jones
Wadebridge, Cornwall

Responding to Sue Gray’s report, Boris Johnson said in parliament: “We are humbled … I am humbled”. The poet Coleridge had it right, though, when he said that the devil himself loved “the pride that apes humility”.
Donald Salter
Durham

Did Boris Johnson say that he has been humbled by the Sue Gray report or rumbled?
Kevin Clayton
Bourne, Lincolnshire

When will the electorate realise that they cannot force Boris Johnson to resign by a display of disgust; only Tory backbench MPs can do that, and they won’t. The only way to get rid of the PM is to get rid of them.
Gerard Gordon
West Kirby, Wirral

The great thing about Partygate is that we can now see clearly which Conservative MPs are decent human beings.
Peter Brooker
West Wickham, Kent

Thanks to the Sue Gray report, we now see Boris Johnson’s unique achievement as prime minister: recreating the Bullingdon Club inside 10 Downing Street.
Richard Dimbleby
Northampton

Boris Johnson talks about accepting “full responsibility”. If he did, it would not be a matter of moving on but of moving out.
Jan Arriens
Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire

Naomi Browne’s letter (22 May) brought a tear to my eye. I too am not like them – this prime minister, this government. Thank you, Naomi, for making me feel less hope-less.
Marilyn Rydstrom
Pinner, London

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