Boris Johnson discusses partygate and Brexit three years on
Boris Johnson has tonight come out fighting after it emerged the Government Cabinet Office reported him to the police over alledged breaches of lockdown rules while he was staying at his grace-and-favour mansion Chequers.
Mr Johnson’s office has publicly blasted the move – which they were not warned about in advance of the story being published by The Times – as “yet another politically motivated stitch up”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The assertion by the Cabinet Office that there have been further Covid rule breaches is totally untrue”.
“Lawyers have examined the events in question and advised that they were lawful.”
Mr Johnson’s office blasted the fact that the Cabinet Office made no contact with him before the “incorrect allegations” were made to the police and to Harriet Harman’s Privileges Committee.
The former PM’s spokesman condemned the behaviour as “both bizarre and unacceptable”.
“For whatever political purpose, it is plain that a last-ditch attempt is being made to lengthen the Privileges Committee investigation as it was coming to a conclusion and to undermine Mr Johnson.”
His office outlined that Mr Johnson’s lawyers tonight wrote to Thames Valley police to explain, in detail, why the Cabinet Office was wrong in both its assertions and its reporting.
Mr Johnson’s team was at pains to emphasise that the events in question “were all within the rules”, either because they were held outdoors or came within another lawful exception.
Some of these supposedly rule-breaking meetings included “regular meetings with civil servants and advisers.”
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This evening former Cabinet member Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed his family visiting Mr Johnson at Chequers resulted in another senior government members’ invite being withdrawn for fear of breaking Covid rules.
Mr Johnson also argues “some within government have decided to make unfounded suggestions both to the police and to the Privileges Committee.”
“Many will conclude that this has all the hallmarks of yet another politically motivated stitch up.”
This evening a close ally of Mr Johnson’s told the Express: “You don’t need an investigation to see that absolutely everything passing through the Cabinet Office or the so-called Proprietary and Ethics team about any remotely pro-Brexit politician ends up in the Guardian or the Mirror.”
“If enough mud is thrown and confusion sowed it will continue to deflect from attention to the worst Cabinet Secretary. Case closed to coin a phrase.
“The bias of senior civil servants is now just hiding in plain sight.”
A senior Tory source told the Telegraph this evening that the “open witch hunt” against Boris Johnson and other “right wingers” in the party must be shut down immediately – going so far as to threaten leadership reprisals should they fail.
“Active conversations are underway among MPs about how to respond to this and nothing is off the table.”
This evening Mr Johnson’s sister, Rachel, also came out to defend her brother.
She told LBC: “As far as I’m aware, all the rules were followed whenever I went to Chequers”.
Boris ally and former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told the Express: “This looks like a desperate witch hunt that is going nowhere”.
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