Frustration as Boris Johnson dodges Partygate questions 17 times in a single BBC interview

Frustration as Boris Johnson dodges Partygate questions 17 times in a single BBC interview
Boris Johnson dodges Partygate questions 15 times in one interview

In what may be a record for the prime minister (it probably isn’t), Boris Johnson refused 17 times to answer questions about parties held in Downing Street while the UK was in lockdown during the pandemic.

In a pre-recorded interview with the BBC’s Sophie Raworth, aired on Sunday, Mr Johnson was grilled on the matter for a grand total of 11 minutes – but refused to answer the questions in any detail while the Metropolitan Police investigation is ongoing.

The response is despite the PM having no legal barrier to do so because no charges have been issued.

It began with a simple enough question. Ms Raworth said: “You have handed in your questionnaire to the Metropolitan Police about parties during lockdown in Downing Street – in government – what did you tell them?”

“I absolutely promise you, Sophie, as soon as I have something more to say about this matter, I will do so, but I can’t give a running commentary of any kind,” he replied.

Second time lucky?

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

“But if the police found you have broken the law, broken your own laws that you wrote, will you resign?” the BBC presenter pressed.

He replied: “Can I just undertake to make sure as soon as I have something meaningful to say about this which will be at the end of the process? I will make sure I will do it.”

Third time's a charm?

Nope. This time Mr Johnson said he wouldn’t because it could be interpreted as a “point of commentary about the process” – even when Ms Raworth suggested it was in fact “a matter of principle”.

We’ll spare you the headache over the next couple of attempts to dodge the questions, telling Ms Raworth to wait until the police investigation has concluded before trying to steer the discussion onto “moving beyond Covid”.

Asked if he was “burying his head in the sand” over the scandal Mr Johnson replied that he was “fortunate to live in a democracy” before talking about the Ukraine crisis and democracy in the country.

This is despite the two of them having talked about Ukraine already.

According to the poor souls at The Independent, it came to the 17th question before Ms Raworth – with the patience of a saint - decided to move on to something else.

The excruciating back and forth seemed to annoy Twitter users, however.

“Deflecting to Ukraine, even though he'd just spoken about that. You can see the excuses being lined up: can't change PM now due to war issues. But that didn't stop Churchill replacing Chamberlain after WWII started and our troops were directly involved,” one account wrote.

Another replied to The Independent’s story and said: “Great that you’ve counted. Next we need a smirk counter.”

“That is about the same number of parties. Allegedly,” quipped a third.

While the Met Police’s investigation is ongoing, senior civil servant Sue Gray published an “update” on her separate inquiry last month, where she concluded that the gatherings were “difficult to justify” during a public health crisis.

It is hoped Ms Gray’s full report will be published once the police’s investigation has concluded.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)