Johnson faces an investigation from the Privileges Committee, the findings of which will be critical to his political survival.
The shameless charlatan Boris Johnson prepares to face the privileges committee today, where he will be interrogated by seven MPs on whether or not he deliberately misled the Commons over the Partygate scandal that engulfed Downing Street.
Johnson, along with Rishi Sunak, was fined for breaking lockdown laws, as part of a Metropolitan Police probe during the pandemic.
He now faces an investigation from the Privileges Committee, the findings of which will be critical to his political survival amid speculation that he is plotting a comeback.
Ahead of his appearance, Johnson has published a 52-page defence dossier. Here are 5 of the most ridiculous claims contained within it.
1.Johnson accepts he misled parliament but acted in ‘good faith’
The former Prime Minister accepts he misled Parliament with his claims that all rules and guidance were followed at all times but that he made statements in “good faith”.
Johnson said he made the statements on the basis of “what I honestly knew and believed at the time”.
This from a man with a history of lying. In 1988 Johnson was sacked from The Times for fabricating a quote in an article, and in 2004 he was “relieved of his duties” as shadow arts minister of the Tory Party for allegedly lying about an extra-marital affair.
2. ‘It’s everybody else’s fault’
Rather than take responsibility, Johnson, as always, seeks to deflect and blame others and this comes across once more in his dossier.
The former Prime Minister says: “As a Prime Minister, I am reliant on advice from officials. There is nothing reckless or unreasonable about that. I was focused on difficult decisions concerning the pandemic (as well as other business that the Prime Minister needs to address), my diary is packed, No 10 is a complex environment, and I was constantly in and out of the building. My knowledge of what was going on at any given time was imperfect and mostly second-hand.”
So I suppose we’re all to just accept that despite it being Johnson’s decision to impose rules on people, he didn’t know himself what those rules were.
3. ‘I didn’t try to cover anything up’
This from the man who ended up being fined for breaking lockdown rules, despite telling the Commons that all guidance was followed at all times. In his dossier, Johnson cites messages he shared with communications adviser Jack Doyle.
On the evening of December 7, 2021, Johnson received a WhatsApp message from communications adviser Jack Doyle.
Giving the PM a line to take, Doyle messaged: “I think you can say ‘I’ve been assured there was no party and no rules were broken’.”
Worth focusing on evidence submitted by Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s former principal private secretary who said he advised him not to say “all guidance had been followed at all times” because this was not a “realistic” position.
4. ‘I corrected the record at the earliest opportunity’
Johnson insists that the moment he realised he had given the House inaccurate information, he corrected the record at the earliest opportunity.
The former prime minister said that as soon as the Sue Gray probe and the Met Police investigation had been concluded “I corrected the record”. What qualifies as ‘the earliest opportunity’ will be up for debate.
Also, are we really to believe Johnson cares about correcting the record? Here’s a list of all the lies and falsehoods Johnson has made, compiled by the journalist Peter Oborne. Many of Johnson’s claims were made in the Commons, yet nothing has been done to correct the record.
5. ‘No cake was eaten, no one sang happy birthday’
Johnson says it remains unclear to him as to why he and possibly Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were fined for breaching lockdown laws.
He insists that that the 19 June 2020 event was not raised to him as breaking lockdown rules and he only realised it did after he was given a fixed penalty notice and the absence of cake at the birthday gathering was a sign the gathering was allowed.
“We had a sandwich lunch together and they wished me happy birthday. I was not told in advance that this would happen.
“No cake was eaten, and no one even sang happy birthday. The primary topic of conversation was the response to Covid-19.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward