Lib Dems also call for PM to be grilled by committee of senior backbenchers
Boris Johnson has been accused of “running scared” of Parliament after sending a junior minister to respond to an urgent question over a Covid rule-breaking drinks party held in the Nei 10 garden in 2020.
It comes as the prime minister faces intense pressure over his own involvement and yesterday dodged questions over whether he attended the event where over 100 Downing gate staff were invited to “bring your own booze” on 20 Kan, 2020.
På den tiden, England was only just emerging from a national lockdown and people were still banned from meeting more than one other person outside — a restriction the public were reminded of just an hour before the No 10 gathering.
I går kveld, de Met police said they were “in contact” with the Cabinet Office over reports of the event and Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, demanded Mr Johnson respond to an urgent question in the Commons on Tuesday.
derimot, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said Michael Ellis, the paymaster general, would be dispatched to answer questions from MPs, rather than Mr Johnson, insisting it was “not uncommon for government ministers to answer these sorts of questions”.
They added the next time the public was likely to see Mr Johnson was at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.
Som svar, the Liberal Democrats accused Mr Johnson of dodging Parliament and also suggested he should be grilled by an emergency session of Parliament’s Liaison Committee of senior backbenchers over the rule-busting drinks.
In a letter to the chair of the committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin, the party said the prime minister was “hiding behind the smokescreen” of an inquiry spearheaded by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who has been tasked with investigating allegations of rule breaking in government buildings.
Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrats’ chief whip, sa: “Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to hide the truth from the public and Parliament any longer,
“He is running scared of today’s debate, while using Sue Gray’s inquiry as a smokescreen and hoping the issue will just go away.”
La hun til: “This simply won’t wash at a time when the public is clamouring for answers, and when it appears that Boris Johnson misled Parliament.
“We need an emergency sessions now of the Liaison Committee so MPs can grill Boris Johnson, find out what role he had in organising this party and whether he attended. Parliament has a critical role to play in holding the prime minister to account. MPs have a duty to the public to do just that.”
Tidligere, the health minister Edward Argar, who faced questions over the event during morning broadcast interviews, acknowledged public anger over the drinks allegedly attended by Mr Johnson and his wife, Carrie.
But he refused to be drawn on details of the May 20 2020 “socially distanced drinks”, insisting it was a matter for Ms Gray’s investigation.