Boris Johnson was accused by former aide Dominic Cummings of breaking his own Covid rules & lying about it
UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has defended his boss Boris Johnson against the claim that he lied about a garden party he attended amid a strict 2020 lockdown.
Raab sided with Johnson who apologized last week for attending a garden party at 10 Downing Street in the middle of a nationwide lockdown in May 2020.
"The suggestion that he's lied is nonsense," Raab told Times Radio on Tuesday. "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.
A government spokesperson also backed the PM, saying that it was "untrue" that Johnson was "warned about the event."
A photo of Johnson relaxing in a wicker lawn chair and chatting with staffers over cheese and red wine was published by The Guardian in December. The government was dealt further embarrassment this month when ITV News revealed an email in which the PM's principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited guests to "have some socially distanced drinks" at No. 10's garden and "bring your own booze."
The affair sparked anger and renewed allegations that government officials were casually breaking their own Covid rules.
Speaking before MPs, Johnson insisted that he "believed implicitly" at the time that the May 2020 party was a work event, but admitted that, in hindsight, he should have found "some other way" to thank his staff.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson's former chief adviser, disputed the PM's account. "He knew it was a drinks party, he lied to Parliament," he wrote on his blog and social media on Monday.
"Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened," the former aide wrote.
Cummings claimed that Reynolds was told to cancel the May 2020 event by at least two people. Reynolds then checked with Johnson if the party should go ahead, and "the PM agreed it should," he wrote.
Johnson's cabinet had already been under pressure after it was revealed that officials attended social gatherings at No. 10 in April and December of last year.
The Mirror cited sources last week saying that government staffers regularly held "wine-time Fridays" during the pandemic under Johnson's watch, while the PM encouraged his staff to "let off steam."
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has urged Johnson to resign, calling him "a prime minister mired in deceit and deception."