Boris Johnson to publish defense of his behavior towards Partygate as he is grilled by MPs
Boris Johnson plans to release a detailed defense of his behavior towards Partygate before he is grilled by MPs on Wednesday, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
The former Prime Minister has put together a full legal case, arguing he received clear advice at the time that downing street lockdown gatherings complied with Covid rules, which will be published in the coming days.
His defense is also expected to question the fairness of the Commons Privileges Committee, which could decide his political fate if it questions him.
Photos of Mr Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case surrounded by Downing Street staff – the other faces blurred for anonymity – form the core of his defense that he did not intentionally mislead the House about Covid-era parties at No 10 .
Sources claim that none of the more than two dozen No 10 staffers who have given testimony to the committee – many of whom can be seen in the photos – have told MPs they believe they are breaking the rules.
SPEECH: Official photo of Mr Johnson’s birthday in June 2020. No. 10 blurred the faces of other staff except Simon Case
Boris Johnson pictured here at the No 10 gathering on 19 June 2020 with then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Mr Johnson is also likely to argue that the gatherings were held to boost morale at No 10, which has been hit by waves of illness and contributed to a stressful work environment.
A source said: “People were dropping like flies. People worked long hours in stressful conditions and Boris wanted them to stay happy and motivated.
“These people in the pictures used the same offices and the same bathrooms, opened the same doors, used the same printers, photocopiers and telephones and breathed the same air 16 hours a day in this unventilated Victorian building.
“The fact that many pictures were taken by [official photographer] Andy Parsons and placed #10 on the Flickr account shows we didn’t think we had anything to hide.’
Mr Johnson’s defiance underscores the stakes at play at his televised public questioning this week, which could last four hours.
The committee, made up of four Tories, two Labor MPs and one SNP MP, can recommend a 10-day suspension of the Commons if it believes it has deliberately misled MPs – a sanction leading to by-elections in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.
Last night, sources close to the committee hit back at claims by ex-Home Secretary Priti Patel about a “culture of collusion” and a lack of objectivity after members made negative comments about Mr Johnson.
A source said the talk of collusion was “absolute crap” and dismissed any suggestion that the committee had already decided on the ex-Prime Minister’s conduct.
The then Prime Minister pictured raising a glass at No. 10 during a gathering to mark the departure of a special adviser on November 13, 2020
The committee hearing coincides with a vote on an aspect of Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit Northern Ireland deal with the EU that Mr Johnson’s supporters expect will play into their hands.
A source said: “Many of the people who feel Boris has been mistreated are upset about elements of the deal and that will fuel rebellion.”
There is anger among Mr Johnson’s allies over Mr Sunak’s decision to allow his party a free vote on the findings of the committee’s inquiry.
A senior Tory said: “If the Prime Minister is not prepared to support his predecessor who is facing a kangaroo court, then that is serious.”
Mr Johnson’s allies also believe the row over Partygate investigator Sue Gray taking a senior job at Labor increases his chances of successfully arguing that he has been the victim of a ‘stab’.
However, the committee said its first report this month was “not based on Sue Gray’s report” but on other evidence, including material provided by the government.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The committee will confirm Boris Johnson. The evidence will show that Boris Johnson did not knowingly mislead Parliament.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/covid-19/boris-johnson-to-publish-defence-of-his-behaviour-over-partygate-as-he-faces-grilling-by-mps/ Boris Johnson to publish defense of his behavior towards Partygate as he is grilled by MPs