Politics

Downing Street partygate scandal is trivial ‘fluff’, says Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed the row over parties held during lockdown in Downing Street and across Whitehall as trivial “fluff”.

Speaking at the Conservative spring xonference in Blackpool, the Brexit minister said the current Ukraine crisis showed that partygate was not a fundamentally serious issue.

“It is a reminder that the world is serious, that there are serious things to be discussed and serious decisions for politicians to take,” he said, during a live recording of his Moggcast podcast.

“Whether this is about reopening and having new licences for oil wells in the North Sea, or whether it is about getting away from the ‘wokery’ that has beset huge sections of society, nobody now cares whether using the word ‘grip’ is going to offend people.

“All that nonsense is shown for the trivial nature of it… I’d say the same of partygate, all of that is shown up for the disproportionate fluff of politics that it was rather than something of fundamental seriousness about the safety of the world and the established global order.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he hosts a summit of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in London. Picture date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
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Boris Johnson faced calls to resign over partygate this year

Boris Johnson faced calls to resign this year over his involvement in a series of events that are now being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for alleged breaches of COVID regulations.

It has been confirmed that the prime minister was sent a questionnaire by the Met to fill out regarding the investigation.

More on Boris Johnson

Initial findings from senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into lockdown socialising in government buildings were published in January.

They pointed to “failures of leadership and judgement” and excessive drinking at work against the backdrop of the pandemic.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s cabinet colleague, Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden, did not appear to share his view.

A light over the 10 Downing Street door in London
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The Met Police is investigating alleged events in Downing Street and across Whitehall during lockdown

Speaking to reporters in Blackpool, he said: “I’ve always felt it is incumbent on politicians who set the rules to abide by the rules.

“Therefore I think any allegations that politicians have not done so should be taken seriously.

“However, I would say both that there is this ongoing police investigation, we’ve had the interim Sue Gray report and the prime minister has similarly expressed remorse at how these kind of events could have happened.

“I think that’s right to do so, so I don’t dismiss them.”

The Conservative spring conference runs from 18 to 19 March.

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