Cheer appeared to be briefly provide this morning as ministers gathered contained in the Cabinet Room amid one other scandal engulfing Boris Johnson’s premiership.
Secretaries of state sat glum-faced whereas the prime minister was accused of a “cover up” on what he knew and when about Chris Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip final week after being accused of groping two males at a non-public members’ membership for Tories in central London.
Pictures from contained in the Cabinet Room present a few of Mr Johnson’s most loyal allies showing to look considerably distracted, missing enthusiasm for what the boss needed to say.
Nadine Dorries, the tradition secretary, seemed to be gazing into house on the different aspect of the room as Mr Johnson tried to rally the troops after one other troublesome few days.
Sat subsequent to her is Jacob Rees-Mogg, the federal government efficiencies minister and Suella Braverman, the legal professional normal, each of whom have been struggling to handle a smile.
Boris Johnson holds the weekly Cabinet assembly at Downing Street
The assembly got here as Lord McDonald of Salford, the ex-permanent secretary on the Foreign Office, mentioned the account given by Downing Street of how Mr Pincher got here to be made deputy chief whip was “not true”.
As Lord McDonald took the extremely uncommon step of submitting a proper criticism to the parliamentary requirements commissioner, Labour mentioned it was clear the PM had “lied”.
Following Mr Pincher’s dramatic resignation final week, No 10 has been accused of shifting its account of what Mr Johnson knew of his previous conduct when he made him deputy chief whip in February.
Michael Gove on the Cabinet assembly
In his letter, Lord McDonald mentioned that in the summertime of 2019, shortly after Mr Pincher was made Europe minister, a criticism by a gaggle of officers about his conduct was investigated and upheld, and the prime minister knowledgeable of the end result.
Downing Street initially claimed that Mr Johnson had not been conscious of any “specific allegations” in opposition to Mr Pincher on the time of the February reshuffle.
But after studies over the weekend of repeated alleged cases of Mr Pincher making undesirable sexual advances to males, it mentioned that whereas the PM had identified of issues, they’d been both “resolved” or there had been no formal criticism and that any allegations have been unsubstantiated.
Dominic Raab was despatched out to defend the prime minister on Tuesday morning
(AFP through Getty Images)
However, Lord McDonald mentioned this was nonetheless not correct.
“Mr Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation. There was a ‘formal complaint’,” he wrote.
“Allegations were ‘resolved’ only in the sense that the investigation was completed; Mr Pincher was not exonerated. To characterise the allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ is therefore wrong.”
Speaking afterward the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Lord McDonald mentioned that Mr Johnson had been advised of the 2019 investigation on the time by a senior Cabinet Office official.
“I know that the senior official briefed the prime minister in person because that official told me so at the time,” he mentioned.
Deputy PM Dominic Raab, who was international secretary on the time, mentioned he had requested Lord McDonald to research a criticism of “inappropriate conduct” in October 2019 however that the mandarin had concluded disciplinary motion was not warranted.
“That doesn’t mean that inappropriate behaviour didn’t take place. We were clear that what happened was inappropriate, but we resolved it without going for a formal disciplinary process,” he advised LBC radio.
“I spoke directly to Chris Pincher in no uncertain terms and I referred it to the Cabinet Office to seek that assurance.”
Mr Raab mentioned that whereas he had knowledgeable the then chief whip, Mark Spencer, there had been no motive to inform Mr Johnson.
“I have discussed this with the prime minister over the last 24 hours, it is not my understanding that he was directly briefed,” he advised the Today programme.
However Labour deputy chief Angela Rayner mentioned it was clear that Mr Johnson had gone forward with Mr Pincher’s appointment, regardless of being conscious of the seriousness of the complaints in opposition to him.