Boris Johnson under pressure over lockdown party ‘lies’

Boris Johnson is facing fresh allegations that he lied to Parliament after photos emerged of him raising a glass at a Downing Street exit party during lockdown.

The pictures – obtained by ITV News – were taken for outgoing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, just days after Mr Johnson ordered a second national lockdown in England.

When asked in the House of Commons last December whether there had been a party at No 10 that day, the Prime Minister said “no”, adding he was sure the rules would be observed at all times.

Labor said there was now “no doubt” that Mr Johnson “lied” to MPs.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police are facing questions as to why Mr Johnson was not fined in connection with the event, as photos showed him with a drink in hand next to a table strewn with bottles of food and wine.

There were at least eight other people in the room at one point, when people were forbidden to mingle except to meet up with one person outside, and at least one person received a fixed penalty in relation to an event that day .

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) urging it to investigate the Met’s Operation Hillman inquiry into the events at No 10 and Whitehall.

The latest revelations come as Sue Gray, the senior officer who has investigated lockdown violations in Whitehall, prepares to release her final report.

Sue Gray prepares to publish her final report (GOV.UK/PA)

(PA Media)

Supporters of the prime minister have grown confident he can survive calls for his resignation after being fined only for a Cabinet Office meeting on his 56th birthday.

But there is still nervousness in Westminster that his position could come under renewed pressure if Ms Gray – as many are expecting – is very critical of the culture at No 10 and Whitehall, prompting repeated breaches of the rules.

The Times has reported that Mr Johnson suggested to Ms Gray that she no longer had to publish her report once the police investigation was complete.

The newspaper quoted a Whitehall source as saying: “He asked her if there was much point in doing it now that everything is out there.”

There was no immediate comment from #10.

In the short term, Mr Johnson’s fate will rest with Tory MPs, who must decide whether Ms Gray’s findings are serious enough to justify a push to oust him as leader.

On Monday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross urged the Prime Minister to explain why he thought his behavior was “acceptable”, while most people would find the images published by ITV News “unjustified and wrong”.

The Metropolitan Police face questions as to why Mr Johnson was not fined (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

(PA wire)

Veteran backbench Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale – a longtime critic of Mr Johnson – said it was clear he should go.

“It is absolutely clear that there was a party, that he attended, that he raised a glass to toast one of his colleagues. And that’s why he misled us out of the shipping box. And frankly, there is an answer,” he told Times Radio.

His comments were echoed by former Scottish Conservative leader Baroness Davidson, who said Mr Johnson’s position had become untenable.

“There is now photographic evidence that when the Prime Minister stood up in Parliament and was asked directly ‘was there a party in No 10 that day’ and he replied ‘no’, he lied to Parliament,” he said she told Channel 4 News.

A spokeswoman for No. 10 said: “The Met Cabinet office and police had access to all information relevant to their investigation, including photographs.

“The Met has completed its investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, after which the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/boris-johnson-sue-gray-prime-minister-independent-office-for-police-conduct-parliament-b2085753.html Boris Johnson under pressure over lockdown party ‘lies’

Bobby Allyn

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