Sunday shows: The PM broke the law and lied about it – he must go, says Starmer

Sunday Morning

Keir Starmer reiterated his call for Boris Johnson to resign, and accused the Prime Minister of breaking the law and lying about it. He also defended the photo showing him drinking with staff in a constituency office days before the May 2021 elections.

  • On whether Boris Johnson broke the law: “I think he broke the law. I think he’s as good as admitted he broke the law. After all, Downing Street has now apologised to the Queen. I know the government’s holding position is ‘let’s all wait for the Sue Gray report’ but it’s pretty obvious what’s happened. There’s industrial scale partying that’s been going on at Downing Street, not much of it is really denied… I think the Prime Minister broke the law, I think he then lied about what happened and this compounds the situation.”
  • Asked whether the police are right to wait for Sue Gray’s report: “Once Sue Gray has come to her findings – she will set out all the facts, she’s very well respected – I think all of those should be passed to the police to look at. But I don’t go along with this idea that we all have to wait somehow. It is blindingly obvious what happened.”
  • On Sue Gray’s report: “We don’t need that report.”
  • On whether Starmer could withdrawal his call for Johnson to resign: “No, I’m clear in my own mind that he’s broken the rules, broken the law. He’s apologised.”
  • On Sue Gray: “I know Sue Gray, she’s a woman of great integrity and great respect, and everyone who knows her says the same thing about her.”
  • On his call for the Johnson to resign: “The Prime Minister has degraded the office of Prime Minister, and he has lost all authority… In the national interest, he has to go.”
  • On the photo of Starmer drinking: “I was in a constituency office just days before the election. We were very busy. We were working in the office and we stopped for something to eat, and then we carried on working. That was the long and short of it. No party, no breach of the rules and absolutely no comparison with the Prime Minister.”
  • He added: “It shows just how far the Conservatives are sinking that they’re trying to pretend there is some comparison between this and the industrial scale partying of the Prime Minister.”
  • On whether all Covid restrictions should be lifted in ten days: “The sooner we can lift the final restrictions, the better, I think that’s what the whole country wants.”
  • On whether Labour was calling for more restrictions before Christmas: “The fact the Prime Minister lies and says Wes Streeting was calling for restrictions doesn’t mean we were calling for restrictions… It’s a bit of a compliment, frankly, to the Labour Party that the Prime Minister and his ministers feel they have to fabricate events before Christmas to defend their own position.”

Oliver Dowden, the minister who led the coronavirus press conference shortly before the May 2020 Downing Street garden party took place, said the gathering was “totally wrong”.

  • “This event was totally wrong. It shouldn’t have happened. The Prime Minister has rightly apologised for it.”
  • “I feel angry about what’s been going on in Downing Street.”
  • “These events should not have happened.”
  • “The Sue Gray report will set out the facts.”
  • On the culture at Downing Street: “Yes, the Prime Minister is responsible for it… I think you’ll see that in the statement he makes to the House of Commons when the report is produced.”
  • On whether other parties will be revealed: “To the best of mine and the government’s knowledge, this is the full extent of it.” But he added that Sue Gray would find the “full facts”.

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, urged ministers to back Labour’s plan for the country to “live well with Covid” and called for Tory MPs to remove Boris Johnson from office.

  • Asked whether Labour would opt to relax Covid restrictions at the scheduled review of health measures on January 26th: “We’ll follow the data closely… We don’t want any restrictions or measures than are absolutely necessary.”
  • On Labour’s plan to “live well with Covid”: “We’ve set out ten points we think the government should introduce in order to live well with Covid in the longer term… The goal here is to make sure we never have to go into lockdown again and that we can move forward as a country, protecting public health but doing so in a way that protects lives, livelihoods and liberties.”
  • In a message to Sajid Javid: “Regardless of all the noise about Boris Johnson and the mess he’s caused for his own party and government, let’s keep public health at the forefront of our minds and plan on that basis.”
  • On allegations that Keir Starmer broke Covid rules in May 2021: “There is no comparison between Keir Starmer following the rules in 2021 and Boris Johnson breaking the rules in 2020. No comparison whatsoever. And I understand why the Conservative Party, unable to defend Boris Johnson, wants to now start going on the attack and smearing other people to cause distraction.”
  • On why Labour is not forcing a vote of no confidence: “There are three routes to the Prime Minister going: he could do the right thing and resign… he can be removed by Conservative MPs through a motion of no confidence through the 1922 committee, and I understand more letters are coming in but they’re not there yet, or he can be removed by the electorate.”
  • On Tory MPs: “Voters will judge them if they defend the indefensible, if they stand by the Prime Minister, if they’re complicit by their silence – and that’s why they should remove him.”
  • Pressed on why Labour is not bringing a motion of no confidence: “That would galvanise the Conservative Party, that would be the political dynamic… I know Tory MPs well enough to know how they behave, they don’t want to bring down the Conservative government.”
  • Put to him that Labour benefits from having Johnson “cling on” in office: “I make no bones about it, Boris Johnson carrying on is great for the Labour Party. If I’m thinking about this purely through the prism of party politics, my message to Tory MPs is: keep him on, knock yourselves out.”
  • But he added: “We’re still in the middle of a national crisis here and the Prime Minister’s actions and judgement matter… If a Prime Minister or Health Secretary from a Conservative Party is coming forward and saying ‘we’re going to remove plan B measures’, I want to be absolutely confident they’re making that decision in the national interest and not in the party interest.”
  • On Johnson: “Johnson ought to go in the national interest. I know we’ll be stuck with a Conservative government for a bit longer, and I hope it is just a bit longer. The responsibility ultimately falls on us to show the voters that we’re not complacent, we’re not waiting for government to fall into our laps, we don’t think it’s the case that because the Tories are in a mess that people just flop to Labour by default – we want to win people’s trust.”
  • On Starmer’s Fabian speech: “He could have just banged on about Boris Johnson for 20 minutes and everyone would have loved it. But he did that speech to show the country that Labour has a plan, Labour has a vision for the country.”
  • On Labour: “This is the year where we will be saying to the country: we’ve got a terrible government, the country deserves a better alternative, here is Labour’s alternative – and that’s where we’ll be in 2022.”
  • On whether Barry Gardiner will be required to return money received from a donor linked to the Chinese Communist Party: “I don’t know that we can require him to return it. I do think this is very serious. I do think that we’ve got a real issue here, which extends beyond one Labour MP.”

Oliver Dowden insisted that Johnson should remain in office despite the controversy caused by Covid rule-breaking at No 10 throughout the pandemic. He said Downing Street parties were “totally wrong” but argued that “we need to get all the facts” and see “how that stacks up against the rules at the time”.

The Conservative Party chairman added that he is “not seeking to defend this” and “nor is the Prime Minister” and that the numerous reported social gatherings in contravention of government health restrictions are “completely unacceptable”.

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