Downing Street has denied Boris Johnson was the victim of a politically motivated fender bender, as Rishi Sunak sought to distance himself from a fresh police investigation into further Partygate allegations.
To assuage the fury of the prime ministers’ former allies, No 10 stressed that Sunak had no involvement in the decision to hand over Johnson’s pandemic logs, which would reveal more rule-breaking events at Checkers.
We have not seen the information or documents in question, Sunaks’ official spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that the ministers had no involvement in the process and were only informed after contacting the police. .
Police were contacted on May 16 about the matter, according to the Cabinet Office. Thames Valley Police said they received a report of potential breaches of Covid rules on May 18, while Scotland Yard said the package was forwarded to them the following day.
Sunak discovered that the police had been informed at some point between May 19 and the publication of the facts on May 23, No 10 said, without giving a specific date.
Downing Street declined to say whether Johnson would lose the Tory whip if charged with further lockdown breaches, with Sunaks’ press secretary saying No 10 would not answer questions about the hypothetical scenario.
However, they were much more adamant that Sunak had not attended the vying events at Checkers. Asked if the then Chancellor broke Covid rules at the Buckinghamshire mansion, the press officer replied: No, definitely not.
Earlier, Johnson’s allies issued a dramatic warning to Sunak, saying they would meet on Wednesday to consider options on how to force the government to stop the witch hunts.
They upped the ante on the already feverish Tory benches by calling the decision to turn over evidence of rallies to Checkers during Covid the last straw.
Johnsons supporters have accused Cabinet Office ministers of approving the decision to hand the diaries of former prime ministers to the police. This was denied by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and the Cabinet Office.
Chalk suggested that officials would have been ridiculed if they passed on the documents or chose to withhold them, adding: Whether this is good judgment depends on the content of these documents.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson added: Ministers had no role in deciding whether the information should be passed to the police.
Johnson had handed over to the Cabinet Office-mandated government legal department a number of documents as they prepared his defense for the official public inquiry into the pandemic.
However, when concerns were raised with senior Cabinet Office officials, they felt obliged under the civil service code to hand over the material to the police.
Johnson threatened to sue the Cabinet Office in retaliation, according to the Daily Mail.