The Prime Minister will be able to block senior civil servant Sue Gray from taking up a new post as Labour’s chief of staff following reports she is being tapped up for the role.

Ms Gray rose to public prominence last year after being asked to compile a report into breaches of Covid-19 lockdown rules at Downing Street gatherings.

News that she may be in line for a senior role working for Sir Keir Starmer has prompted concern among allies of Boris Johnson, who suggested the former Prime Minister would be in “a total frenzy of rage”.

The “Partygate” revelations, which were partly uncovered by Ms Gray’s report, are widely seen as being the catalyst for Mr Johnson’s removal by his own MPs.

Ms Gray has refused to comment on the reports that she is in talks with Labour about taking the chief of staff job, which would make her one of the party’s most senior figures in the run-up to the next general election. A Labour spokesman said: “The process is ongoing. Nobody has been offered the job.”

If she does end up being appointed by Labour, the move would have to be approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba).

The committee would submit its recommendation on whether Ms Gray should be allowed to take the job to Rishi Sunak, because he is directly responsible for the Cabinet Office where she currently works. He would then have the final say on whether or not to sign it off.

Former members of Mr Johnson’s team expressed disbelief at the prospect of Ms Gray, whose son is a Labour activist, joining Sir Keir’s office.

One ex-aide said: “It just can’t be true – it would be too absurd.” Another added: “I’m sure she is someone of the utmost integrity and professionalism and all the usual caveats, but surely the civil service goons should stop this. Boris will be in a total frenzy of rage about this.”

Conservative MP Sir James Duddridge told i: “I think Sue should take legal action as this impugns her character and standing. She is not my favourite civil servant but this seems an unreasonable punishment for her.”

Ms Gray indirectly criticised the former Prime Minister in her report for “failures of leadership and judgment” during the pandemic, when No 10 and Cabinet Office staff were allowed to hold social gatherings at a time when the general public was strictly banned from socialising.

She was the Government’s ethics chief for a number of years, leading investigations into the behaviour of multiple ministers who were accused of misconduct, and has also worked in Northern Ireland’s civil service. Ms Gray has never previously held a party-political role.

Sir Keir has long been looking for someone with civil service experience to take over as Labour cheif of staff and prepare the party for government.

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