Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”No Mr Speaker, I did not attend any parties.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, House of Commons

Facts

Rishi Sunak was answering a question from Labour MP Karl Turner. Mr Turner asked him to “categorically deny” that he or any of his officials or special advisors were in attendance at Christmas parties in Downing Street in December 2020. 

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor each confirmed that they had received an FPN in relation to the event on the 19th June 2020.

Sue Gray summarised the event as follows: ” On 19 June 2020 a number of individuals gathered in the Cabinet Room in No 10 Downing Street to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. Food, alcohol and soft drinks were provided, having been organised in advance that morning. The event lasted around 20-30 minutes.” In ordinary parlance a party, although Sue Gray does not use the term.

Sunak was subsequently issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by the Metropolitan Police for breaching Covid lockdown rules in relation to ‘partygate’.

Verdict

It is impossible to say that Mr Sunak was deliberately misleading (ie lying) to MPs when he told Karl Turner that “I did not attend any parties.” He may genuinely have believed what he was saying. The fact is, however, that he did mislead MPs, and we know this for certain because he was subsequently issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by the Metropolitan Police for breaching Covid lockdown rules in relation to ‘partygate’. Mr Sunak was therefore misleading Parliament in defiance of the Ministerial Code.

Failing to correct the record after misleading Parliament breaches the code of conduct for ministers and, according to the rules, can be a resignation offence. Luckily for Sunak, Boris Johnson was Prime Minister when he misled the house on this occasion, and Johnson paid no attention to the Ministerial Code. 

We emailed Rishi Sunak’s office and Downing Street offering them the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

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