Nadine Dorries's defence of Boris Johnson completely backfired

Nadine Dorries's defence of Boris Johnson completely backfired
UK’s Boris Johnson offers apology after lockdown parties fine
Al Jazeera

Since the news broke that the prime minister would be fined in the wake of Partygate, several MPs have spoken out in his defence.

And to no one’s surprise, one of the first MPs to raise their head above the parapet was Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

In a tweet, she said: “PM has been clear about what happened on 19th June 2020 & offered a full apology. It was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room, less than 10 minutes during a busy working day.

“PM is at his best when delivering on the priorities of the British people which he will continue to do.”

The fixed penalty notices doled out to Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Rishi Sunak yesterday related to the June party, which was a birthday bash for Johnson’s 56th in which he was “ambushed with cake”.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

In Dorries’s tweet, she parroted Downing Street’s claim that he attended for less than 10 minutes. The gathering lasted for between 20 to 30 minutes, ITV reported at the time.

But the reporter who first broke the story about Johnson’s bash in January, ITV’s UK Editor Paul Brand, responded: “The police say the PM was at the party between 1400 and 1500 - i.e. as long as an hour. Nadine Dorries is repeating the PM's line that it was only 10 minutes.”

Responding to Dorries’s tweet, people poked fun at the culture secretary’s attempts to defend the prime minister, some of whom predicted she would be amongst the first to log on and defend Johnson.

Either way, her defence of Johnson was duly roasted:

A few hours later Dorries again tweeted: “Both the Chancellor and the PM worked relentlessly and daily, on furlough, testing, vaccines, the economy - they led us through the pandemic to the place we are now, thriving and living life without restrictions.

“If it had been left to Starmer, we would still be in lockdown now.”

Dorries isn’t the only top Tory to defend Johnson.

MP Michael Fabricant yesterday said he didn’t believe the prime minister would have thought he was breaking the law, and compared the alleged festivities to teachers and nurses having a “quiet drink” in a staff room after a “very very long shift”.

Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg also defended him, and seemingly attempted to bat away criticism by stating that “there is a war on”.

Former MP Edwina Currie bluntly said she doesn’t care whether or not Johnson broke the rules.

Not all Tories are on Johnson’s side, however.

When asked if he thought Johnson’s position was untenable, backbench MP Nigel Mills said: “Yeah, I think for a prime minister in office to be given a fine and accept it and pay it for breaking the laws that he introduced… is just an impossible position.

“We have every right to expect higher standards of people making these laws… so the idea that he can survive having broken one and accepted he has broken [it], I just think is impossible.”

Both Johnson and Sunak apologised on Tuesday and confirmed they had paid the fines imposed by the Metropolitan Police.

But they resisted calls for their resignations – insisting they were keen to now get on with the job.

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)