Who is lying, Johnson or Cummings?

Dominic Cummings accused the PM of lying to parliament about the "drinks gathering".


Published: Tue 18 Jan 2022, 11:51 PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, facing a series of charges of 10 Downing Street hosting parties and social gatherings during Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions imposed on the general public, appears to be in no mood to resign.

While Johnson has admitted his misjudgement in attending an “impromptu party” of 40 staffers at the official residence on May 20, 2020, when the rest of the public could go out only on essential work, maintain social distancing, he has of late appeared unwilling to take responsibility. But on Tuesday, Johnson’s former key aide Dominic Cummings, who was the premier’s chief strategy adviser and who has turned a fierce critic, accused him of lying to parliament about the “drinks gathering” at 10 Downing Street during the lockdown. Cummings said that he would “swear under oath” that he had warned Johnson about the party and had urged him to cancel it.

Cummings claimed on Twitter that the prime minister was told about the invite to a drinks party and that “he lied to parliament”. Noted Cummings: “Amid discussion over the future of the Cabinet Secretary and the principal private secretary himself, which had been going on for days, I said to the PM something like: ‘Martin’s invited the building to a drinks party, this is what I’m talking about, you’ve got to grip this madhouse’. The PM waved it aside.”

Devastating comments from a former close aide for any leader. But Johnson has been defying all the charges and maintaining that “nobody told me that what we were doing was…against the rules. When I went out into that garden, I thought that I was attending a work event,” he revealed on Tuesday.

Earlier, he had dismissed charges that he, along with his wife, was with nearly a score of Downing Street staffers drinking wine and eating cheese. Johnson dismissed it as “people at work”.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating the charges and Johnson insists that he would wait for the final report. Gray will be probing a host of allegations against the prime minister and his team, including holding late-night soirees, ‘bring-your-booze’ parties and ‘wine-time Fridays’ even as the country continued to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Kein Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, has accused Johnson of violating Covid-related rules by allowing the hosting of ‘industrial scale partying.”

Starmer said the prime minister broke the law: “I think he’s as good as admitted that he broke the law.” Sadly, for Johnson, many of the Tory MPs have asked him to quit. Boris Johnson was elected in 2019 as his rival Jeremy Corbyn was chaotic and far-left. The premier is now witnessing a rapid decline in his popularity, not only among the electorate, but even within his party.

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