Boris Johnson refuses 17 times to answer questions about Downing Street lockdown parties

Prime minister point-blank refuses to comment for 11 minutes in extraordinary TV interview

Watch excruciating exchange as Boris Johnson dodges Partygate questions 17 times

Boris Johnson refused 17 times to answer questions about rule-breaking lockdown parties at Downing Street in an excruciating interview broadcast on Sunday morning.

The prime minister was grilled on the subject for a total of 11 minutes by a BBC presenter but refused to say what had happened or whether he felt ashamed – despite there being no obvious legal barrier to him doing so.

Repeatedly pushed on the matter during the interview the prime minister attempted to change the subject many times, and at other points simply refused to answer.

He said there was “not a bean I can tell you about that, much as I would like to”.

Mr Johnson notably refused to commit to resigning if he was issued with a fine by the police.

And other questions the PM refused to answer include whether he was ashamed of his actions, whether parties took place at his flat, and whether he was just burying his head in the sand about the issue.

“I understand your curiosity, but you’re just going to have to accept that for the time being – you won’t have long, alright, I hope – but for the time being you’re going to have to contain your interest,” he at one point said, among many similar responses.

The prime minister also tried to bring the conversation back to the war in Ukraine despite the fact he had discussed the issue at length with the interviewer prior to the questioning over Partygate.

Told on BBC’s Sunday Morning programme that public found some of his excuses for attending No 10 parties “implausible”, particularly the “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, the PM replied: “You’re just going to have to wait until the process is complete.”

Downing Street confirmed on Friday that Mr Johnson has now responded to a police questionnaire about which parties he did or did not attend.

Boris Johnson attended the Munich Security Conference on Saturday

The Metropolitan Police had previously asked senior civil Sue Gray not to publish details of her investigation into the parties in order to avoid prejudicing their own investigation.

But with the questionnaire now submitted the police are thought to have concluded their evidence gathering.

Nobody has yet been charged with an offence at Downing Street, the point at which crimes are conventionally sub judice and considered not something that should be commented on.

Speaking at around the same time at the prime minister’s interview was broadcast, foreign office minister James Cleverly rejected suggestions Mr Johnson should resign.

“I don’t think what the country needs at the moment is a vacuum at the centre of government when we are dealing with our recovery from Covid, the accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, making sure that the the health service is able to deal with the sad, the unfortunate but nevertheless obvious, backlog that’s been created by Covid,” he told Sky News.

“That’s what the country needs. That’s what I believe the prime minister should be doing.”

Responding the interview, which was prerecorded in Munich on Saturday while the prime minister attended a security conference, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson is not fit to be prime minister. If Johnson is found to have broken the law, he must fess up and resign. No more cover-ups, no more lies.

“If he won’t resign, Conservative MPs must do the right thing and sack him. For a sitting prime minister to be found guilty of breaking the law would be unprecedented and put to bed once and for all the Conservative Party’s claim to be the party of law and order.”

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