Minister Defends Boris Johnson’s "Integrity" After A Chaotic Week In Number 10
Small business minister Paul Scully has defended Boris Johnson's integrity after a series of damaging stories this week (Alamy)
Boris Johnson still has “integrity” according to one of his ministers, despite ongoing criticism of Christmas parties in Number 10 and allegations he lied about who paid to redecorate his flat above it.
Business minister Paul Scully admitted that “it's been a difficult week for the government” following a series of damaging headlines for the Prime Minister and those around him.
Downing Street’s director of communications Jack Doyle is the latest senior figure to face scrutiny following reports he addressed up to 50 people at a Christmas gathering for staff on 18 December last year and handed out awards.
Number 10 refused to comment on Doyle's involvement, referring instead to the launch of an investigation by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case into the alleged event and others said to be held in late 2020.
Scully told BBC Breakfast it was key to "get to the bottom" of this week’s claims about parties and gatherings, which are said to have taken place while the rest of the country were subject to strict Covid restrictions.
He said an investigation had been launched because "we want to see beyond doubt that there were no rules broken, which is what the assurances have been to the Prime Minister, and that's what I've heard”.
The mounting chaos at Downing Street this week has some on the Conservative party to question Johnson's suitability as leader, but Scully dismissed such criticism.
"I feel very comfortable about the Prime Minister's integrity," he said.
“Clearly though, I don't feel comfortable about the fact that it's been a difficult week for the government.”
On Wednesday health secretary Sajid Javid was pulled from early morning media appearences, where he was due to talk about Covid-19 booster vaccines, after video was published by ITV showing Johnson's former spokesperson Allegra Stratton joking about the alleged parties. Later that day, Stratton resigned.
Scully conceded this morning that the scandal has been a distraction that has meant the government “haven’t been able to get across the measures we’re making” on things like the national living wage and helping the hospitality industry get back on its feet.
"Communication is getting lost because of this situation, that’s what I feel very uncomfortable about,” he added.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said "trust in the entire system of government is hanging in the balance".
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said "Boris Johnson, through the lies he's told again and again and again, has stretched the boundaries of credibility".
Streeting accused Johnson of throwing associates "under the bus" to cover for his own failings.
"Whether it's Allegra Stratton, Jack Doyle, Dominic Cummings, Gavin Williamson, Matt Hancock, these people who have flagrantly broken the rules and in full view of the public with no accountability, they have one thing in common and that's the man who's appointed them and his judgment," he said.
"I'm afraid it's his untrustworthy nature, his disorganisation, his dishonesty, which is undermining trust in public health measures."
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