A rather bizarre defence.
Justice secretary Dominic Raab has been ridiculed after his latest defence of Boris Johnson, as the prime minister faces growing pressure from within his own party to resign following Sue Gray’s report into lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Raab admitted to Sky News’ Kay Burley that Johnson had broken the law, albeit in his opinion unintentionally, after he was issued with a fine by the police for attending a party in Number 10 during lockdown.
He refused to admit however that this amounted to a breach of the ministerial code, in a rather bizarre defence.
Raab’s comments came despite Johnson’s own ethics chief, Lord Geidt saying there was a legitimate question to answer when it came to whether Johnson had breached the ministerial code.
Raab was asked by Burley: “The PM must be worried about his future despite what you’re saying especially given what we have from Lord Geidt who says that he believes that the prime minister has potentially broken the ministerial code after being fined for a lockdown breach. Why do you think he hasn’t?
Raab replied: “Lord Geidt raised that issue and the PM has responded to the letter and he’s been clear that in relation to the single fixed penalty notice he hadn’t intentionally broken the law and his attendance at that gathering, as has been well rehearsed, was inadvertent.
“So Lord Geidt is really important, he is a senior figure. We’ve actually been working for months to reinforce his role, that’s been done by agreement between No 10 and Lord Geidt, but actually I think those questions have been answered, both in general but also now specifically in the letter the PM has sent and, as I said, we’re getting on with the job.”
Burley answered: “But you have just acknowledged that the prime minister broke the law and that’s against the ministerial code”, to which Raab replied ‘it’s not quite that simple’.
For Raab, somehow breaking the law doesn’t amount to a breach of the ministerial code. Tory defences of Boris Johnson are once again divorced from any reality.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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