How did Tories react to Boris Johnson's defence of Partygate?

How did Tories react to Boris Johnson's defence of Partygate?
Boris Johnson’s key arguments to MPs ahead of Privileges Committee appearance

Boris Johnson yesterday published a report explaining why a committee of MPs should not rule that he deliberately misled parliament over Partygate.

Johnson is being investigated by a cross-party group called the privileges committees over whether he deliberately misled his colleagues when he repeatedly asserted that no Covid rules were broken during lockdown - a claim that was ultimately disputed by the Sue Gray report and the Met Police who last year handed out a number of fines for Covid rule-breaking.

In their interim report, they said he should it have been "obvious" to the former PM that rules had been broken.

But in his 52-page response, Johnson moaned that Downing Street had too narrow corridors to socially distance in and that the MPs investigating him as part of the privileges committee were behaving in a "highly partisan" manner.

Johnson said that he "did not intentionally or recklessly mislead" MPs when he claimed all Covid rules were followed and that he listened to his aides when deciding how to act during the period.

Today, he will be grilled by the privileges committee in a four-hour oral evidence session to further set out his defence.

Speaking ahead of his appearance before the privileges committee tomorrow, Johnson said: “I look forward very much to the committee session tomorrow.’I look forward very much to the committee session tomorrow.

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“I believe that the evidence conclusively shows that I did not knowingly or recklessly mislead parliament.

“The committee has produced not a shred of evidence to show that I have.”

But his fellow Conservative MPs had mixed views regarding whether he was in the right or wrong.

Some like Nadine Dorries and Andrea Jenkyns showed their support:

But others like David Davis weren't so sure. The former cabinet minister told The Independent: “The idea of ministers just saying whatever special advisers write for them is unutterable b*****ks. If that’s the strength of the argument he is sinking without trace. If that’s it, then he’s in for a torrid time.”

Davis added: “[Johnson] could have checked the advice with the authorities – with the cabinet secretary and permanent secretaries at departments in charge of the restrictions. After all, these were rules he authorised.”

Ultimately it is for the committee to decide whether he is in trouble or not. But given their scathng interim report, it is not looking good.

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