Boris Johnson’s stonewalling on Partygate won’t impress voters

In an excruciating BBC interview with Sophie Raworth on Sunday morning, the prime minister refused to answer questions on rule-breaking Downing Street parties a whopping 17 times in just 11 minutes.

Meanwhile expect more “diversionary” policy announcements – Owl

Editor’s Letter: 

Johnson was asked what happened, whether parties took place at his flat, whether he was ashamed of his actions and whether he was burying his head in the sand about the issue. He dodged the questions, oscillating between attempting several subject changes and simply refusing to answer.

The PM also wouldn’t commit to resigning if he is found to have broken lockdown laws by the police.

Politicians are known for obfuscating in interviews and avoiding tough topics – often by answering something that they wish they’d been asked instead – but the prime minister’s squirming and swerving of Raworth’s questions looks particularly shifty at a time when he desperately needs to restore some trust in his leadership.

The Partygate saga has dragged on for months, spun out by a lack of responsibility taken by implicated parties, delays in the release of Sue Gray’s abbreviated report, outright lies and attempts to minimise, dismiss and distract. There have been very few resignations from people involved – notable examples include Allegra Stratton, moving from laughter at the mock press conference to tears in front of the TV cameras, and former mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey.

Nine out of 10 Independent readers told us at the end of January they think Boris Johnson should resign, after he admitted to attending a gathering in the garden of Downing Street during the first lockdown in May 2020. The excuse that he thought it was a work event went down like a concrete pool float at the time, and is unlikely to have aged any better since.

As Sunday’s disastrous interview shows, Johnson is still on the ropes. His evasive interview probably won’t endear him to the public, many of whom already feel that they’ve been gaslit over Partygate. Voters haven’t forgotten – or forgiven – and behaving as though they will is a serious miscalculation.