Jacob Rees-Mogg refuses to apologise for calling law-breaking Downing Street parties ‘fundamentally trivial’

Rees-Mogg also defended Boris Johnson, claiming that the prime minister had not misled Parliament or the country.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has doubled down and refused to apologise for calling illegal Downing Street parties which took place during strict lockdown rules as a ‘bit of fluff’ and ‘fundamentally trivial’.

The Brexit minister made the comments last month, with the Met Police since issuing fines to a number of people who attended the parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Speaking at the Conservative Spring conference in Blackpool last month, Rees-Mogg said the Ukraine war showed that partygate was not a fundamentally serious issue.

There has been widespread public anger following what’s been called the ‘partygate scandal’, as the prime minister himself as well as his advisers and others were breaking lockdown rules to hold parties while ordering the rest of the country to stay at home.

Asked on LBC today by a caller whether he regretted his past comments and if he would apologise, Rees-Mogg insisted that he would not. He said:  “What I am going to do is try and contextualise.

“We have a war going on in Ukraine, we have atrocities being carried out, we have pictures coming through that show the enormous brutality of Putin’s army.

“And what I was saying was in the context of what is going on, not just with Ukraine but also with the cost of living crisis, this is not the most important issue in the world. Having said that, people should obviously obey the law.”

Pushed by presenter Nick Ferrari on whether he still stuck by his former remarks, Rees-Mogg went on to claim that it was the rules themselves that had to be looked at because they were ‘too rigid’ and that in the context of what is happening in Ukraine, his words were ‘completely reasonable’.

Rees-Mogg also defended Boris Johnson saying that the prime minister had not misled Parliament or the country. Johnson and senior Tory ministers insisted for weeks that no rules were broken and that the guidelines were ‘followed at all times’, a claim that was once again exposed as a lie after the Met issued fines to those who attended the parties.

Rees-Mogg said: “The fact that the prime minister was given wrong information doesn’t mean he misled people. The prime minister said that he was told that the rules were followed, but that turns out not to be correct. We know that fines have now been issued. But the prime minister can only work on the information he’s given.

“If the prime minister is told information that is incorrect, and passes that information on, he has made no deliberate effort to mislead anybody.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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