BORIS Johnson today broke cover to allegations from Dominic Cummings that he lied to Parliament over the Partygate saga.
The scorned ex-aide last night insisted the PM WAS warned about the “bring your own booze” bash in May 2020 – but “waved it aside”.
His accusation contradicts Mr Johnson’s claim he had no prior knowledge of the knees-up in the Downing Street garden during lockdown.
In a grovelling apology to the Commons last week he said he “implicitly believed it was a work event” but should have sent everyone back inside.
The PM has been bunkering in isolation for the past few days after a family member tested positive for Covid.
But he emerged to chair Cabinet this morning and will be grilled on the latest claims at a North London hospital visit later.
In major developments:
- Dominic Raab suggested the PM will have to resign if found to have lied to the Commons
- Rishi Sunak said he “of course” believes the PM’s version of events
- Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer refused to apologise for drinking beer in lockdown
- Mr Johnson is preparing to lift Plan B restrictions next week
Deputy PM Dominic Raab today rubbished Mr Cummings’ claims as “nonsense” – but suggested Mr Johnson should quit if found to have lied to MPs.
He told the BBC: “If it’s lying, deliberate in the way you describe, if it’s not corrected immediately, it would normally under the ministerial code and the governance around Parliament be a resigning matter.”
Downing St has repeatedly insisted Mr Johnson was not aware of an email from top official Martin Reynolds inviting staff to the “socially distanced drinks”.
Since leaving No10 during a power struggle in late 2020 Mr Cummings has waged a bitter one-man war on the PM.
In the latest salvo he wrote on his blog: “I said to the PM something like: ‘Martin’s invited the building to a drinks party, this is what I’m talking about, you’ve got to grip this madhouse.”
But he claims “the PM waved it aside.”
The incendiary leaked email is at the heart of a make or break probe into the scandal conducted by Whitehall sleaze-buster Sue Gray.
Mr Johnson has now given evidence to the inquiry, with No10 desperate for its findings to be sped up after days of MPs calling for his head.
‘I WILL SWEAR UNDER OATH’
Whitehall officials are hopeful it may be published by the end of the week, but warn Gray is “raging” about information being withheld from her and leaks about her report to the media.
In his latest explosive intervention into the saga, Mr Cummings blasted that regarding that day alone, “never mind the string of other events”, the Prime Minister “lied to Parliament about parties” by insisting he had been assured no events had taken place that would have broken coronavirus rules.
“Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened,” he said.
Last night No10 repeated their insistence that “It is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event in advance.”
“As he said earlier this week he believed implicitly that this was a work event.
“He has apologised to the House and is committed to making a further statement once the investigation concludes.”
Mr Raab also flew to the PM’s defence, adding: “The suggestion that he’s lied is nonsense.”
But the justice secretary did acknowledge that any minister who has been found to have misled Parliament should resign.
And he admitted that the party scandal has come up on the doorstep during canvassing with voters expressing “mixed views”.
He said: “Double standards is toxic. I get the frustration. As lawmakers the Government has got to take a lead and show it’s acting to the highest standards.”
Former Brexit-ally Steve Baker MP warned it was “impossible to say” if Mr Johnson will lead the Tories into the next election because people may be “too angry to forgive” the lockdown smashing bashes.
A poll by Opinium of Tory members found two thirds back Mr Johnson as PM but a quarter want him to quit.
Just six per cent said they believed Mr Johnson was telling the truth about parties, with a 29 per cent saying he was not.
And a private poll circulated by Tory donors pointed to the Conservatives getting hammered at the next election with Mr Johnson in charge, but Rishi Sunak securing a hung parliament.
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.