Johnson police referral raises questions, says Starmer
Boris Johnson’s referral to police over potential further lockdown breaches raises new questions, the Labour leader has said.
Sir Keir Starmer, who was visiting Scotland on Friday, said the public was “fed up to the back teeth” with stories about the former prime minister.
Mr Johnson, who believes he is the victim of a stitch-up, has ditched the Government-appointed lawyers representing him in the Covid-19 public inquiry after he was referred to police.
No 10 has said ministers were not involved in the decision to pass to the police concerns over events in Chequers and Downing Street following a review of the former prime minister’s official diary.
Sir Keir told broadcasters: “I think people are fed up to the back teeth with stories about Boris Johnson. The heart of this is a simple truth that, across the country, people made massive sacrifices during Covid.
“Some people not going to the birth of their baby, not going to the funeral of one of their close family members.
“These are deeply personal things and increasing revelations about Boris Johnson, I think, just add to that sense of hurt and people are fed up with it.
“I do think there are questions now about why have these allegations not come out before, all these allegations.
“Obviously, there will be investigations, I understand that.
“The core of this is a very human feeling of one rule for us, which we obey, another rule for Boris Johnson and those at the top of the Tory Party.”
The Cabinet Office has said ministers had “played no role” in the decision to hand information to the police, with the referral instead made by officials acting within the Civil Service Code.
Mr Johnson’s office has claimed the handling of the situation was “bizarre and unacceptable”, and the events in question were within the rules.
“It appears some within government have decided to make unfounded suggestions both to the police and to the Privileges Committee,” a statement said.
“Many will conclude that this has all the hallmarks of yet another politically-motivated stitch-up.”
Cabinet Office officials passed concerns to the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police after the new information came to light during a review by taxpayer-funded lawyers ahead of the Covid public inquiry.
The Privileges Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament about the partygate scandal, has also been informed.
The Times reported on Friday Mr Johnson had been preparing to release a photograph of one particular Downing Street garden visit in June 2020, which the paper said showed the then-prime minister meeting his mother and sister for lunch.
Mr Johnson believed that the image – which has now not been released – would have showed that all rules were followed, the paper said.
The latest developments have turned attention back again to the partygate controversy, raising awkward questions once again for Rishi Sunak about his predecessor.
The former prime minister, according to loyal backer Nadine Dorries, is not contemplating a return to frontline politics at the moment as she compared him to English civil war leader Oliver Cromwell.
Speaking on her TalkTV show, she said: “Long after Oliver Cromwell had been dead and been buried, possessed, fearful and irrational men dug up his body and publicly executed him.
“Let’s face it – some in Westminster what they fear more than anything, is the return of Boris Johnson and they will go to any lengths to ensure that they prevent that from happening as they let their imaginations run riot and lead them down the paths of devious intent.
“Well I’ve got news for them, Boris Johnson has gone. When I spoke to him at 4am yesterday morning US time, I got the strong impression that making a return is the last thing on his mind.”