Raab Rubbishes Dominic Cummings' Claim The PM Lied To Parliament About Parties

·4 min read
Raab has denied there was a culture of drinking in Downing Street, saying people worked
Raab has denied there was a culture of drinking in Downing Street, saying people worked

Dominic Raab has denied Boris Johnson lied to parliament about a party held in Downing Street during lockdown — dismissing the latest claims by Dominic Cummings as “nonsense”.

Johnson’s former chief adviser has said he warned the prime minister that a No.10 party on May 20, 2020 — which is now the subject of an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray — “broke the rules”.

In a blog post on Monday, Cummings said the PM “waved it aside” when he raised concerns over an email sent to 100 people by his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, to the now infamous “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden.

“The events of 20 May alone, never mind the string of other events, mean the PM lied to parliament about parties,” Cummings wrote.

“Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened.”

But deputy prime minister Raab said any suggestion that Johnson lied about the party was “nonsense”.

Downing Street also issued the statement: “It is untrue that the prime minister was warned about the event in advance. As he said, he believed implicitly that this was a work event.”

Earlier this month Johnson admitted he attended the May event for 25 minutes, believing it to be a “work event” which “technically” could have been within the rules. He was forced to apologise to the House of Commons about his attendance and admitted: “With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside”.

Asked by Times Radio whether it could spell “the end” of Johnson it if could be proved that he lied about his knowledge of the party, Raab replied: “The suggestion that he lied is nonsense.

“He’s made it very clear to the House of Commons that questions on this, that he thought it was a work event and of course, Sue Gray is looking into all of this, so I’m not going to start commenting on every little snippet that is further trailed in.

“That’s precisely why we have a proper investigation. And there’ll be full transparency when it reports.”

In his blog post, Cummings said he had warned Reynolds that his emailed invite to staff “broke the rules”.

“Amid discussion over the future of the Cabinet Secretary and PPS himself, which had been going on for days, I said to the PM something like: ‘Martin’s invited the building to a drinks party, this is what I’m talking about, you’ve got to grip this madhouse’,” the former adviser wrote.

“The PM waved it aside.”

Raab, who is also the justice secretary, attempted to dodge questions over whether Johnson would be forced to resign if it transpired he had lied to parliament about the parties and any advance knowledge of them.

The ministerial code states that those “who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the prime minister”.

After several attempts to reject questions as “hypotheticals”, Raab told the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that deliberately lying to parliament would “normally” be a resigning matter.

“If it’s lying, deliberate in the way you describe, if it’s not corrected immediately, it would normally, under the ministerial code and the governance around parliament, be a resigning matter,” he said.

Cummings’ latest claims are likely to add further pressure on Johnson, who is already facing calls to resign by some of his own MPs.

Over the weekend, Tory MPs spoke of how they have received hundreds of emails form angry constituents over the party scandals.

Raab insisted that Johnson has been “straightforward” with parliament about the parties but acknowledged the level of public anger at “any perception of double standards”.

“There is some frustration and people feel there is an issue of double standards,” he told Sky News.

He said that while he had not seen evidence of a drinking culture in No.10, he could understand why people who were working “extremely long hours” might have a drink at the end of the evening.

Raab later tried to deny “speculation” that the May 20 “party” was held in his honour — accidentally appearing to admit that the May 20 event was in fact a “party”.

Sky’s Kay Burley interjected: “So it was a party on 20 May, then?”

Raab replied: “No...no.”

“You referred to it as a 20 May party!”

“No, no, no, this is the claim that was made, and it was nonsense, I wasn’t invited, and I didn’t attend.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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