July 2, 2022

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Clash over Partygate as No 10 refuses to endorse Raab’s admission laws were broken

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In a clash between Boris Johnson and his deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, Downing Street has refused to endorse the justice secretary’s admission that laws were broken in the Partygate scandal.

Since the announcement on Tuesday of 20 fines for lockdown breaches at Downing Street and Whitehall, No 10 has refused to accept that the Metropolitan Police move meant the law had been broken by members of Mr Johnson’s administration, and that the prime minister himself misled parliament.

But Mr Raab this morning broke with the official line, telling a TV interview that the issue of fixed penalty notices “inevitably” meant the law had been breached.

The cabinet minister also accepted that Mr Johnson may have said things “that turned out not to be true” when he assured MPs that no rules were broken in No 10,.

But he insisted that there was no “intention to mislead”, as the PM had been “updating parliament to the best of his knowledge and understanding” before suggesting he may have said things that “turned out not to be true”.

Asked on Sky News if the issuing of a fixed penalty notice meant the law had been broken, Mr Raab said: “Yes, inevitably fixed penalty notices (are issued to) those that have breached the regulations.”

Challenged repeatedly over Mr Raab’s comments, Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson refused to say whether the PM agreed with his justice secretary’s interpretation of the police action.

“The prime minister has said he respects the position of the Met,” said the spokesperson. “This investigation is ongoing and, as I said yesterday, you will hear more from him at its conclusion.”

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The spokesperson said that No 10’s position had not changed since Tuesday, when he said that it was “for the Met rather than the prime minister” to make a judgement on whether the law had been broken.

His comment sparked speculation in Westminster over whether Mr Johnson is wary that public acceptance now that a FPN signifies law-breaking may backfire on him if he is later issued with a fine.

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