'GMB' empty-chairs no-show Liz Truss amid Partygate scandal

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·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
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Watch: Liz Truss empty chaired by Good Morning Britain as she fails to show amid Partygate row

The foreign secretary was empty-chaired by Good Morning Britain (GMB) after she failed to appear on the show ahead of the publication of a crucial report into Downing Street parties.

Despite appearing on Sky News, BBC Breakfast, LBC and Radio 4's Today programme, Liz Truss failed to drop in to the GMB studios.

The minister, who many consider to be a front-runner to replace Johnson, said she supported the prime minister "100%" as he awaits the findings of a report from senior civil servant Sue Gray into parties which were allegedly held in Downing Street during the national lockdown.

The findings are likely to be a make-or-break moment for the PM, with rumours that rebellious Tory MPs are waiting for the outcome to determine if they will launch a bid to oust him as party leader.

Addressing Truss' no-show, GMB host Adil Ray said: "We’re hearing this morning – as often happens when there’s a big news story around for the government, when they’ve got their backs to the wall and they need to answer questions – is that they disappear."

Read more: Boris Johnson 'doesn't think he has broken the law' as police launch criminal probe

Liz Truss was empty chaired after failing to show on Good Morning Britain as the nation waits for the Sue Gray report (GMB)
Liz Truss was empty chaired after failing to show on Good Morning Britain as the nation waits for the Sue Gray report (GMB)

Johnson has also been coming under further pressure to resign after the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday announced they were launching a criminal investigation into the reported gatherings.

The most recent allegation claims that the PM had a small gathering in the office on his birthday in June 2020, in which people shared a cake and sang happy birthday.

Conor Burns, the Northern Ireland minister and a long-standing ally, claimed on Tuesday that the PM was "ambushed with a cake", despite social mixing indoors being banned.

In response to that, Ray said: "‘You call it an ambush, I call it a party.

"So if ministers are around, we’d love you to speak to the UK. There is a police investigation going on, and the least you could do is answer some questions to us, if not to the police."

His co-host Susanna Reid added: "Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer them under caution on this programme."

Adil Ray revealed an empty chair for Liz Truss (GMB)
Adil Ray revealed an empty chair for Liz Truss. (GMB)

In separate interviews, Truss dismissed talk of the need for a general election in the event of Johnson being ousted as prime minister as “complete hypothetical speculation”.

If 54 Conservative MPs sign letters of no-confidence, it will automatically trigger a leadership election. If Johnson is ousted, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg on Tuesday said he believed a new leader should call a general election.

He told the BBC: “It is my view that we have moved, for better or worse, to essentially a presidential system and that therefore the mandate is personal rather than entirely party, and that any prime minister would be very well advised to seek a fresh mandate.”

What is Gray's report about?

Gray was tasked with investigating alleged breaches of COVID legislation following multiple reports of gatherings happening within Downing Street while socialising was banned.

The prime minister — and his allies — have repeatedly refused to comment on the nature of any alleged parties, saying it would need to wait until the full report is published.

On Tuesday, Johnson told MPs that he "welcomed" the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation" because it would "help to draw a line under matters”.

It is not yet known whether the PM will decide to publish all of the report, including any evidence gathered, or a summary of the findings.

Watch: Dominic Cummings not drawn on Johnson party police probe

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