Dominic Raab Dismisses "Caricature" Of Party Culture In Downing Street
Dominic Raab has defended the Prime Minister over allegations he misled Parliament
Dominic Raab has defended the "incredibly professional" staff in Downing Street and he dismissed claims of a drinking culture as a "caricature".
The deputy prime minister, who had stepped in for Boris Johnson when he was unwell in hospital with Covid, has launched a defence of Downing Street staff over claims there is a "drinking culture" that led to a string of alleged parties while the country was in lockdown.
Speaking on Tuesday, Raab admitted he felt "as frustrated as anyone else" over pictures of a gathering in the Downing Street garden, saying he believed the "double standards is toxic".
But he pushed back against what he believed to be a "caricature" that had emerged about the behaviour of Number 10 staff in recent months.
"I spent a lot of time in Number 10 during the period when the PM was unwell, and after in my capacity as ... Foreign Secretary," he told Sky News. "In fairness, I think there is something of a caricature that is being depicted against the incredibly professional, dedicated, and hard work that I saw. I can only vouch in good conscience about what I saw."
He addressed suggestions first made by Tory MPs that one of the Downing Street gatherings was held to thank Raab for stepping in while the Prime Minister was hospitalised, saying it was "nonsense".
"There was speculation the 20 May party was held in my honour to thank me. I mean it is just ridiculous."
Asked why he had referred to the gathering as a "party", Raab reiterated that he believed the claim to be "nonsense".
"I wasn't invited and I didn't attend," he continued.
He added that Downing Street staff had worked "phenomenally hard" during the pandemic, in what he described as "grueling conditions".
Raab also dismissed claims made on Monday by Dominic Cummings, the former Downing Street adviser, who accused Boris Johnson of having lied to Parliament about his knowledge of the parties.
"The suggestion that [Johnson] lied is nonsense," Raab said. He insisted that any suggestion the Johnson has "prior knowledge" of the 20 May drinks were "entirely untrue".
"The PM has been very clear that that’s not true or accurate.
"I'm confident he's been straightforward with the House of Commons."
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