Boris Johnson has dragged Rishi Sunak into his partygate hearing by suggesting that if it should have been obvious to him that lockdown rules were being broken in No 10, it should also have been apparent to “the current Prime Minister”.
Mr Sunak’s predecessor in No 10 was on the defensive as he was grilled by MPs on Wednesday over whether he misled the Commons with his denials about pandemic-era parties.
Mr Johnson has insisted it was his belief that no guidance or rules were being breached at any gathering while the Privileges Committee has argued the rule-breaking going on in Downing Street would have been “obvious” to him.
He placed great stock in both the assurances he had received as prime minister and the fact that no-one around had expressed concerns themselves while also making much of the fact there is no evidence that he ever received warnings about breaches of guidance.
Mr Johnson told the committee: “If it was obvious to me that these events were contrary to the guidance and the rules, then it must have been equally obvious to dozens of others, including the most senior officials in the country, all of them – like me – responsible for drawing up the rules.
“And it must have been obvious to others in the building including the current Prime Minister.”
Mr Sunak was Mr Johnson’s chancellor at the time of the gatherings and also lived in Downing Street.
Both were fined for attending the then-prime minister’s birthday bash in Downing Street in June 2020, as part of a Metropolitan Police probe.
Mr Sunak was not planning on watching Wednesday’s proceedings.
The Prime Minister has said he would not seek to influence MPs on the committee and was expected to grant a free vote in the Commons on any sanction that may be recommended.
If Mr Johnson is found in contempt and sanctions are recommended, this is likely to cause a headache for the current occupant of No 10.
Mr Johnson also swore “hand on heart, I did not lie to the House” in the hearing that could determine his political fate.