Boris Johnson did not tell cabinet about the launch of a police probe into allegedly lockdown-breaching parties at No 10, leaving ministers to find out about it on their phones as they left this morning’s meeting.
The prime minister was informed shortly before the weekly meeting that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick would announce the investigation during her appearance before the London Assembly scheduled for 10am on Tuesday morning.
And the news was promptly leaked to the Guido Fawkes political gossip website, which published a report of the impending announcement at 9.28, just after ministers had assembled.
But Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson told reporters that the PM decided not to tell ministers, because the information was sensitive and it was not known at what point during the meeting Dame Cressida would drop her bombshell.
The police probe was not discussed at all during the two-hour meeting, which focused on the crisis in Ukraine, the BBC funding settlement, the upcoming second anniversary of the UK’s formal departure from the EU and the construction of a new battery factory in Blyth.
As the meeting drew to an end – by which time news of the police probe was dominating news headlines and social media - the PM alluded to the ongoing partygate controversy by telling ministers that “there was more work to do to deliver for the public and the government would not be deterred from getting on with the job”.
Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said ministers “were able to be informed once cabinet concluded”. It appears that some heard about the development via their phones moments before stepping out of the famous black door of 10 Downing Street to face the media outside.
Asked why the PM did not update colleagues, his spokesperson said: “Given that cabinet was taking place and it was unclear at exactly what point Cressida Dick would make her comments, it was right to allow her to make them in the first instance, rather than pre-empting them.”