Boris Johnson broke the law and lied about it, Keir Starmer said on Sunday.
In an interview for the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, the Labour leader said it was not necessary to wait for the “partygate” report to learn whether Johnson broke the rules because it was already obvious that he did.
Starmer also restated his call for Johnson to resign, saying he had “degraded the office of prime minister”.
Starmer told the BBC: “I think [Johnson] broke the law. I think he’s as good as admitted that he broke the law. En, na alles, Downing Street has now apologised to the Queen for some of the parties that have gone on.”
Starmer seemed to be referring to Johnson’s statement to MPs last week in which he all but admitted that the 20 May party he attended was against the rules. He said he thought at the time it was a work event, but now realised he should have stopped it.
Arguing that “the facts speak for themselves”, Starmer said that as well as breaking the law Johnson “then lied about what happened and this compounds the situation”.
To justify this claim, Starmer said Johnson originally told MPs he had been assured no parties took place at No 10. Toe, after the private video of staff discussing a Christmas party in 2020 was broadcast, the PM told MPs he was angry to learn about this. Then he admitted he had been at the 20 Mei geleentheid, and he told MPs last week that in retrospect he realised he should have stopped the gathering that evening. Starmer said that showed his initial claim to have no knowledge of partying was false.
Many Tory MPs have said they want to reserve judgment about whether Johnson should be allowed to stay in office until the publication of the report by Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating the scandal, is published. It is due within a fortnight.
But Starmer said there was no need to wait because it was “blindingly obvious” what had happened. There had been “industrial-scale partying” at No 10, hy het gesê.
In his column in the Sunday Times, Dominic Lawson claimed that Johnson was clearly warned in advance, twice, that the 20 May event was party taking place against the rules.
“Last week I spoke to a former Downing Street official who said at least two people had told the PM, after seeing the emailed invitation from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, that this was ‘a party’ and should be immediately cancelled,” wrote Lawson, a former editor of the Spectator and the Sunday Telegraph.
“I was told that Johnson’s dismissive response was to say they were ‘overreacting’ and to praise Reynolds as ‘my loyal Labrador’.”
Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, said this showed that Johnson was lying when he told MPs last week that when he attended the 20 May gathering, he thought it was a work event.
But Downing Street said: “It is untrue that the prime minister was warned about the event in advance. As he said earlier this week he believed implicitly that this was a work event.”
Starmer has said a photograph of him drinking with a number of party staff in a constituency office last year was “no breach of the rules” and there was “no comparison” with the prime minister.
Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Starmer was asked about the picture published in the Daily Mail, which first emerged in spring last year.
The image, which was taken several days before the Hartlepool byelection, was captured through the window of a building in Durham and shows Starmer drinking a bottle of beer and standing close to two people while another pair can be seen in the background.
England was at that time in step two of the roadmap out of the third lockdown, and indoor mixing between different households was not allowed except for work.
Starmer said: “I was in a constituency office just days before the election. We were very busy. We were working in the office.
“We stopped for something to eat and then we carried on working. No party, no breach of the rules and absolutely no comparison with the prime minister.”
Hy het bygevoeg: “It was perfectly lawful to meet for work, which is what we were doing. The party that was put to the prime minister on Wednesday happened because an invitation was sent to 100 people saying: ‘Let’s have some socially distant drinks in the garden and bring your own booze.’ There is simply no comparison.”