Good morning. One of many oldest cliches about political scandals is that it isn’t the unique fault that brings you down, however the cover-up, and as Boris Johnson’s administration continues its Tory sleaze re-enactment pageant, it has offered the proper illustration.
Final week Chris Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip after reportedly drunkenly groping two males on the Carlton Membership. At Westminster many individuals had heard rumours that Pincher could have carried out related issues earlier than, and the incident instantly prompted questions as to why Boris Johnson appointed Pincher deputy chief whip within the February reshuffle within the first place.
No 10’s preliminary response final Friday was to say that Johnson was not conscious of any allegations about Pincher’s conduct when he appointed him to the publish (which gave him appreciable energy over Tory MPs, in addition to a pastoral obligation to help them). Over the past 4 days that line has now collapsed, to the purpose the place any cheap observer should conclude that Downing Road has been mendacity. My colleague Archie Bland has a complete account of how the No 10 story unravelled in his First Version briefing.
This morning Simon McDonald, a former everlasting secretary on the International Workplace, has launched a replica of the letter he has despatched to the parliamentary commissioner for requirements, Kathryn Stone, offering but extra proof that No 10 has not been telling the reality. McDonald says in the summertime of 2019, quickly after Johnson promoted Pincher from the backbenches and made him a minister of state on the International Workplace, officers complained about Pincher’s groping-type behaviour. (McDonald doesn’t give particulars, however he says the allegations had been much like the Carlton Membership ones.) The criticism was upheld and Pincher apologised, McDonald says. And when Pincher left the International Workplace, employees didn’t trouble with a leaving do.
Crucially, McDonald says Johnson was advised about this on the time. McDonald says this reveals what No 10 has been saying about what Johnson knew about Pincher – even the modified line getting used yesterday – is unfaithful. McDonald writes:
The unique No 10 line is just not true and the modification continues to be not correct. Mr Johnson was briefed in particular person in regards to the initiation and final result of the investigation. There was a “formal criticism”. Allegations had been “resolved” solely within the sense that the investigation was accomplished; Mr Pincher was not exonerated. To characterise the allegations as “unsubstantiated” is subsequently flawed.
McDonald doesn’t use the phrase “mendacity” in his letter, and he didn’t use it in his subsequent interview on the At the moment programme. However, when requested what No 10 wanted to do now, “cease mendacity” was successfully what he stated. He advised the programme:
I believe they should come clear. I believe that the language is ambiguous, the kind of telling the reality and crossing your fingers on the identical time and hoping that individuals are not too forensic of their subsequent questioning and I believe that isn’t working.
In response Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem deputy chief, has stated Johnson must “come clean with his net of lies”. She stated:
Lord McDonald has shone a brand new gentle on this murky cover-up. Boris Johnson must come clean with his net of lies and eventually come clear at the moment. Day-after-day this carries on our politics will get dragged additional by way of the mud.
Right here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cupboard.
11.30am: Downing Road holds a foyer briefing.
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Within the Commons a Cupboard Workplace minister shall be responding to an pressing query at 10.30am tabled by Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy chief. It’s anticipated to be Michael Ellis, who by now has in depth expertise defending Boris Johnson’s ethics file within the Commons. Rayner has requested for an announcement “on the mechanisms for upholding requirements in public life”, however in follow that is sure to focue on the Chris Pincher scandal.
That is from Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser and now certainly one of his fiercest critics, on the information that the PM has had one other name with the Ukrainian president this morning. (See 12.10pm.)
The much-delayed Downing Road foyer briefing (see 11.54am) has now began. What is claimed is embargoed till it’s over.
“Hiya, is that President Zelenskiy’s workplace? It’s Downing Road right here. Prime Minister Johnson was questioning if the president is free to take a name?”
This appears to be an everyday occurrencee in Kyiv and, amazingly, such calls typically appear to coincide with days when Boris Johnson is dealing with some kind of home turmoil in London. No 10 has denied that Johnson reaches for the hotline to Ukraine as a distraction approach however, as the i’s Jane Merrick reported recently, the proof on the contrary is compelling.
And, lo and behold, guess who Boris Johnson has been calling this morning. That is from Volodymr Zelenskiy.
John Penrose, the Conservative MP who resigned as the federal government’s anti-corruption champion over the Sue Grey report, and Boris Johnson’s response to it, says Simon McDonald’s letter is “dynamite”. He says the reset promised by No 10 after Partygate “has no credibility”.
From the Every day Mail’s Jason Groves
Dave Penman, normal secretary of the FDA, the union representing senior civil servants, has stated that it’s extraordinary that Chris Pincher was allowed to stay a minister after the incident investigated in 2019. Any civil servant in the identical place would have been sacked, he says.
Alain Tohhurst from Politics Dwelling has some extra footage from cupboard this morning.
That is from my colleague Gaby Hinsliff on Dominic Raab’s interviews this morning. (See 10.37am.)
And that is from my colleague Archie Bland.
The SNP has known as for an inquiry into whether or not Boris Johnson’s dealing with of the Chris Pincher affair has damaged the ministerial code. In an announcement referring to Simon McDonald’s letter, Brendan O’Hara, the SNP spokesperson on Cupboard Workplace issues, stated:
This proof from a former senior official within the International Workplace demolishes Boris Johnson’s claims and raises critical questions over whether or not he has lied and damaged the ministerial code.
There should now be a full investigation. If the prime minister has lied, there isn’t a query that he must resign. This as soon as once more locations the highlight on how completely damaged the Westminster system is and the way Scotland can be higher off with independence.
Sir Roger Gale, the Tory MP and long-standing critic of Boris Johnson, stated Simon McDonald’s letter reveals the prime minister lied, PA Media experiences. Gale stated he’ll now help a change of the principles of the Conservative 1922 Committee to permit a contemporary vote of confidence within the PM to go forward inside 12 months of the earlier one.
Gale advised the BBC:
Mr Johnson has for 3 days now been sending ministers – in a single case a cupboard minister – out to defend the indefensible, successfully to lie on his behalf. That can’t be allowed to proceed.
This prime minister has trashed the fame of a proud and honourable get together for honesty and decency and that isn’t acceptable.
It’s so blatant a lie it needs to be acted upon as swiftly as potential by my get together.
In a brief weblog James Forsyth, the Spectator’s political editor, says the response of Tory MPs to the most recent Pinchergate growth is “a mix of exhaustion and despair”. He says:
After Partygate, Johnson’s allies advised Tory MPs that they had been checking out No 10, that there can be no extra self-inflicted wounds. However the identical errors are once more being made and Tory MPs are more and more shedding persistence.
And that is from Adam Payne at Politics Dwelling.
From ITV’s Paul Model