Boris Johnson smirked his way through partygate questions in his BBC interview

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Boris Johnson said there’s “not a jot” he can say about the partygate affair. It comes as he repeatedly declined to say whether he will resign if found to have broken his own rules. As Herald Scotland and others have pointed out, there’s “no obvious legal reason” why Johnson can’t answer such questions. While it’s certainly the case that you can’t force a person to say something incriminating, there’s no law which says a person can’t discuss information that reveals their innocence.

This ultimately suggests that any answer Johnson did give would not shine a flattering light on his activities.

The man with no answers

On the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, the prime minister faced more than 10 minutes of questioning on the topic of partygate. He repeatedly told the programme there was “nothing” he could say on the matter until the police inquiry was completed. Johnson said he hoped the public “won’t have long” to wait for the investigations to complete, claiming:

I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.

Johnson handed a legal questionnaire to police on 18 February regarding claims that lockdown-busting parties were held in Downing Street. The content of his questionnaire response has not been made public. He further claimed:

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to give you full and detailed answers on all this stuff. I genuinely can’t because we’ve got a process under way – there is not a jot I can say until it is done

Read on...

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Again, it remains unclear what “process” prevents Johnson discussing the matter.

When told the public found some of his excuses for attending Downing Street gatherings “implausible”, particularly the “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, Johnson replied:

You’re just going to have to wait until the process is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.

Johnson – the most powerful person in the UK – did not expand on who was stopping him spilling his beans.

Pressed further, he added:

I understand your curiosity, I totally accept it, but you’re just going to have to accept for the time being – and you won’t have long, I hope – but for the time being you’re going to have to contain your interest.

I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.

Johnson’s excuses have done nothing to appease his many, many detractors:

Labour MP Diane Abbott pointed out:

There were also other matters that the usually chatty PM felt unable to discuss:

Mr Vacuum

Speaking of the police investigation and criticism from his own party members, Johnson said:

I am fortunate to live in a democracy. I am fortunate to be the PM of a free, independent, democratic country where people can take that sort of decision, and where I do face that sort of pressure, that’s a wonderful thing.

Meanwhile, Europe minister James Cleverly said the country does not need a “vacuum at the centre of Government” when asked about how the PM should react if he gets a fixed penalty notice. He presumably didn’t mean a vacuum cleaner, although it’s hard to see how a Henry Hoover could suck harder than Johnson.

Speaking to Sky on Trevor Philips on Sunday, Cleverly said:

I don’t think what the country needs at the moment is a vacuum at the centre of Government when we are dealing with our recovery from Covid, the accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, making sure that the health service is able to deal with the sad, the unfortunate but nevertheless obvious, backlog that’s been created by Covid.

That’s what the country needs. That’s what I believe the Prime Minister should be doing.

Cleverly did not directly answer a question about whether Johnson should resign if issued with a fixed penalty notice. To be fair, though, the fixed penalty notice would be small potatoes compared to other acts the Tories stand accused of:

Prime Minister’s Questions
Johnson apologised in the Commons for attending one of the events but said he thought it would classify as a ‘work event’ (it remains unclear what a ‘work event’ is as there was never a exception for them in the coronavirus guidelines) (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament)

“Fess up and resign”

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said:

If Johnson is found to have broken the law, he must fess up and resign.

He added:

If he won’t resign, Conservative MPs must do the right thing and sack him. For a sitting Prime Minister to be found guilty of breaking the law would be unprecedented and put to bed once and for all the Conservative Party’s claim to be the party of law and order.

Meanwhile Labour MP Diane Abbott said the PM’s response “speaks to his arrogance and contempt for voters”:

The Metropolitan Police is investigating 12 events allegedly attended by government figures during lockdowns. They include as many as six that the prime minister is reported to have attended.

Officers involved with Operation Hillman, which is examining whether coronavirus restrictions were broken in Downing Street and across Whitehall, sent formal questionnaires to approximately 50 people as they look into the details of alleged rule-breaking. Presumably the questionnaire contained questions like ‘can you confirm what you’re obviously doing in this photo everyone has already seen?’

It’s unclear if the police will start interrogating other criminals with questionnaires, but probably not.

Featured image via Twitter

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  • Show Comments
    1. It seems to me what most people want is to live in peace and harmony with each other. They want a decent education, a decent job, and a decent home in which to raise a family. Society should be structured by our political representatives to make that happen.‬

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    2. Email sent Govt leaders dated 21.2.2022
      Good day
      All in Govt job that have a voter to remove Boris
      It’s time for him to go full stop!!now
      //
      I have posted this new Question to day for voter to read
      And hopefully Tory party M.P.+ Minister alike. You future as a Tory Govt party is in grave danger the longer Boris Is P.M. and continuing to lie to us voters plus other country leader.
      This man is willing to start world war 3 with Putin remember Putin is not threating us in U.K.
      YET Boris has already Wasted our taxpayer money on arms to the country arguing with Putin Just to keep his job and continue to lie to us Voter this man will be the end of Tory party values if you do not get shut now.
      Footnote
      He wasted our public taxpayer payer money on a war that is nothing to do with us (as of yet Putin has not threatened the U.K.)
      Also do remember we have left the E.U. by way of Brexit so our British public money should Not be wasted on wars Without it being signed off voted for by us British people Not lying Boris or Mr. Sunk Tory party members.
      Yet he Bribes us British people for our voter with an energy bill
      (LOAN PAYMENT)
      We must pay back to Sunak with interest added to the loan payment
      Concluding
      Boris + Mr Sunak will not get the taxpayer money he wastes on this war back for us British taxpayer Just so Boris can hang on a little longer (his career as P.M. is over he lied not the rest of Tory party and the Minister looking after his backside now better understand the voter next G.E. will member them,All Come voting day that betrayed their trust in them to do the right thing and get shut of Boris now.

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