LONDON (Reuters) -A claim by a former senior adviser to Boris Johnson that the British prime minister lied to parliament about not knowing about a lockdown party in Downing Street is nonsense, his deputy said on Tuesday.
Asked if the prime minister’s premiership was over if it could be proved that he had lied to parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said: “Look, the suggestion that he’s lied is nonsense.
“He’s made it very clear to the House of Commons, took questions on this, that he thought it was a work event,” he told Times Radio.
Johnson last week apologised to parliament for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of Downing Street on May 20, 2020, but said he had thought it was a work event.
Dominic Cummings, an architect of Britain’s departure from the European Union and a former senior adviser to Johnson who left government under acrimonious terms in November 2020, said that Johnson had agreed that the drinks party should go ahead.
“Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened,” he said on his blog.
Asked if Johnson should resign if he had lied, Raab said he would not speculate about hypotheticals.
Johnson’s apology came after ITV News published an email invitation from Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to a May 20, 2020 event, asking attendees to “bring your own booze”.
Cummings said that after Reynolds was told to cancel the invite by at least two people, Reynolds checked with Johnson if it should go ahead.
“The PM agreed it should,” Cummings said in his blog.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating about a dozen allegations of rule-breaking by Johnson, his team and officials at his 10 Downing Street official residence. Senior ministers have said people needed to wait for the conclusion of her inquiry.
However, the scandals have seen Johnson’s personal ratings plummet and support for his Conservative Party has sunk in opinion polls. A growing number of Conservative lawmakers have said he should now resign.
“I will be calling for action against anyone who has been found to have broken the rules,” junior health minister Maria Caulfield said on her website.
“It is clear that there was a culture inside Number 10 where even if rules were not technically broken, the spirit of the rules were, and this is completely unacceptable.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)