Sajid Javid: I wasn't naive to believe Boris Johnson over Partygate

Conservative politician Sajid Javid arrives at the BBC in central London on July 10, 2022, to appear on the BBC's 'Sunday Morning' political television show with journalist Sophie Raworth. - A trio of Conservative heavyweights, including former health ministers Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, late Saturday announced their bids to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meaning eight contenders have entered the already acrimonious leadership race. (Photo by Justin TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sajid Javid pictured on Sunday ahead of his BBC interview. (Getty Images)

Tory leadership contender Sajid Javid has insisted he was not “naive” to defend Boris Johnson over the Partygate scandal.

Javid claimed he had believed “reassurances” after reports of lockdown-breaking parties around Whitehall began to emerge in the winter.

The former health secretary – whose resignation on Tuesday in protest at Johnson’s running of the government helped spark a wave of ministerial departures that forced the PM to quit on Thursday – was asked if his subsequent defences of Johnson on the airwaves were therefore “naive”.

Javid, who was appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning, said: “I don’t think it’s naive. I certainly wasn’t the only one [to defend Johnson] and if anything I was probably the first one to not believe.”

Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid (L), Simon Case (2L), Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (3R) and Britain's Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey (R) attend the start of a cabinet meeting in Downing Street in London on July 5, 2022. - Britain's finance minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday announced his resignation, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under fire for his handling of a sleaze scandal involving a senior colleague. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sajid Javid, left, at Boris Johnson's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, hours before he quit as health secretary. (AFP via Getty Images)

He said he was bound by the collective responsibility of being in the cabinet, which meant that “it’s important when you hear things… that you think might not be the case, to give the benefit of the doubt”.

Javid’s comments came after his former cabinet colleague, and fellow leadership candidate, Grant Shapps also said he felt “hugely uneasy” defending Johnson over Partygate... while failing to recall criticising the media for reporting on the scandal in January.

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Javid, asked if he always told the truth when he represented the government on TV and radio interviews, and believed what he had been told by the PM, said: “I trusted what I was being told.

“It turns out some of the things I was told, and I said this quite clearly in Parliament when I made my [resignation] statement, didn’t turn out to be true.

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“Now, I don’t know why someone would have said something to me that wasn’t true. That’s a question for them. But I trusted what I was told.”

Javid declared his candidacy for the Tory leadership contest on Saturday, and is currently one of nine MPs to have done so.