Boris Johnson Didn't Tell Cabinet About Downing Street Police Inquiry As It Launched
Boris Johnson did not make his Cabinet aware that the Met police was about to launch an investigation into the alleged Downing Street parties during lockdown (Alamy)
3 min read
Number 10 has confirmed that Boris Johnson was aware police were about to open an investigation into alleged Downing Street parties during lockdown, but did not tell Cabinet ministers he was meeting with as it launched.
Boris Johnson was briefed that Metropolitan police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was due to confirm the criminal inquiry this morning, but his senior ministerial team only found out once the inquiry had aleady been made public.
The Prime Minister's offical spokesperson confirmed that the inquiry was not discussed at the weekly meeting of Cabinet ministers because the announcement was made while the meeting was taking place, but that Johnson has "alluded" to it at the end.
The official readout from the meeting included references to the situation in Ukraine, BBC funding, Brexit, and Net Zero. It concluded that "there was more work to do to deliver for the public and that the government would not be deterred from getting on with the job".
Johnson's spokesperson said that he had not discussed detail of Dick's 10am announcement at the meeting, which began at 9.30am, because he believed it was "important not to pre-empt a police statement on this sort of issue at any point".
They added: "It was at that stage unclear exactly at what point the Met would make that statement and obviously the Prime Minister will continue to discuss any relevant issues with his Cabinet."
The decision not to pre-warn senior ministers about the inquiry is believed to have caused "incredulity" among Cabinet members, according to Sky News' Sam Coates.
Cabinet ministers are not allowed to take their phones into the Cabinet room, so it is understood they found out the news as they left the meeting. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg was the only Cabinet minister to offer immediate reaction to media waiting in Downing Street.
Rees-Mogg gave a staunch defence of Johnson, and did not engage with detail of questions relating to the Met inquiry.
"The leadership of Boris Johnson this country has had has been so brilliant that he has got us through this incredibly difficult period, and he's got all the big decisions right," he said.
"We have opened up faster than any other European country thanks to the Prime Minister, and I'm honoured to be under his leadership."
It's understood Johnson was passed a paper note about the Met investigation while he was addressing Cabinet, which he briefly read, then carried on discussing other subjects in the meeting.
Officials were also coming in and out of the room as the morning meeting went on but some ministers managed to get all the way back to their departments before realising that the Met had launched their inquiry.
Any discussion of the alleged parties was also notably absent from Cabinet talks for the second week in a row, though Johnson is understood to have made a small reference as the meeting was wrapping up. He reportedly told colleagues there hadn't even been a birthday cake at the gathering of colleagues for his 56th birthday in 2020, as reported by ITV news.
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