Boris Johnson wants us to believe he did not “intentionally or recklessly” mislead Parliament about the parties he attended in Downing Street while the UK was in Covid-19 lockdown. Why should we?
The inquiry into what happened has a threefold purpose. It intends to find out:
- What Boris Johnson said to the House of Commons
- Whether what he said was correct or whether it was misleading
- How quickly and comprehensively any misleading statement to the House was corrected
We know he said no parties took place and that this was not true.
So the question is about how quick he was to correct his misleading statements.
He says he did this at the earliest opportunity, which was after Sue Grey’s report was published and a police investigation into the parties had ended (and he had been fined). He says he didn’t want to give a “half-baked account, before the facts had been fully and properly established”.
But he knew the facts, didn’t he – after having participated in what happened?
I’m listening to Politics Live while I’m writing this, and have just been reminded of his words at one such event – that it was “the least socially-distanced” event at the time. He knew the rules because he announced them. Is it credible for him to claim innocence?
This is what the inquiry will have to decide.
More sinister is Johnson’s attempt to impugn the motives of the Commons Privileges Committee, stating that he considers it to be “partisan” and not to have done all it could to ensure “fairness”.
This is nothing but a smear.
It makes him look like a guilty man, flailing, trying to find anything that could call a verdict against him into question.
In that sense, it seems highly ill-advised.
He doesn’t know what the inquiry’s decision will be. But now he has already turned public opinion against him.