Dominic Raab faced a grilling on media rounds this morning (Picture: Sky News)
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab denied there was a Downing Street party on May 20th held in his honour but admitted ‘I wasn’t invited and I didn’t attend’.
The Justice Secretary faced a grilling this morning on the allegations that Boris Johnson knowingly went to a ‘bring your own booze’ bash in May 2020, when the first lockdown was in place.
The Prime Minister admitted to parliament last week that he attended drinks in the Downing Street garden, but claimed he thought it was a work event.
Sky News host Kay Burley sought clarity on the situation this morning when Raab appeared on her show as part of media rounds.
But the pair clashed as he made some confusing statements while refusing to be drawn in on the matter further.
Raab insisted the Prime Minister had been ‘straightforward’ with MPs by claiming he thought the May 20 garden gathering was a ‘work event’.
But when asked if that meant Mr Cummings was lying, he said he did not want to get ‘drawn in to the soap opera’ of claims’ and repeated the line used by ministers that they will wait for Sue Gray’s investigation into lockdown gatherings in Whitehall to finish.
However he appeared to shoot himself in the foot when later referring to the event on May 2020 as a party.
He said claims that ‘the May 2020 party’ was in honour of him for taking over as PM while Mr Johnson was in hospital with Covid were ‘ridiculous’.
News presenter Kay Burley then said ‘so it was a party on May 20th?.. You’ve just referred to it as the May 20th party?’
Raab replied: ‘No.. this is the claim that was made.
‘It was nonsense, I wasn’t invited and I didn’t attend.’
He went on to deny claims there was a ‘drinking culture’ in the heart of government, adding: ‘I do not personally recognise the caricature that they [No 10 staff] were all partying, this was incredibly serious and difficult and a dedicated team.’
Boris Johnson is facing calls to resign over allegations he broke lockdown rules (Picture: Getty)
And he refused to speculate on the PM’s future when asked by Kay Burley if he should resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial code by lying.
An awkward standoff ensued as he repeatedly referred back to the Sue Gray investigation, with Burley quipping that the top civil servant was now ‘the most famous woman in Britain’.
However, Raab later suggested Boris Johnson should resign if he did mislead Parliament and fails to correct his remarks, an allegation both men deny.
Asked about the ministerial code stating that those ‘who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister’, Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think the ministerial code should be followed at all times.’
Pressed if a minister should resign if they lie to Parliament and fail to correct themselves, Mr Raab said: ‘Yes.’
Asked about how safe Mr Johnson is as leader, Mr Raab said: ‘I’m confident he will carry on for many years and into the next election.’
It comes as a growing list of Tory MPs demand the Prime Minister’s resignation over the parties scandal.
The investigation into events at Downing Street and Whitehall by top civil servant Sue Gray is due to be completed next week.
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