‘This can’t continue!’ Tory grandee accuses Boris of sending ministers out to lie for him

Tory grandee Sir Roger Gale blasts Boris Johnson

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As Boris Johnson is facing renewed scrutiny about what he knew about Chris Pincher when he appointed him as deputy chief whip in February, a former top civil servant at the Foreign Office Lord Salmond McDonald says in a letter that Boris Johnson was briefed in person about a formal complaint and investigation into Mr Pincher’s behaviour. Following reports of his misconduct over drunkenly groping two men, Mr Pincher resigned on Thursday and was suspended from the Conservative Party.

Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, said in reaction to the letter: “Mr Johnson has for three days now been sending ministers out – in one case a Cabinet minister on Sunday morning – out to defend the indefensible – effectively to lie on his behalf. 

“That cannot be allowed to continue.”

BBC News presenter said: “That’s a very strong word and a very strong sentence you’ve just said.”

He retorted: “I’ve said it carefully and very deliberately.”

When asked about his reaction to the letter and the revelations in it, he said: “Sadly, I’m not remotely surprised. But I am completely horrified.”

“I’m not surprised because time after time Downing Street has had to revise the story that initially has been a denial and then turned into some sort of admission.

“What we’re seeing now is a highly reputable and trusted former very senior civil servant, Lord McDonald, kicking the bottom completely out of the line that was originally peddled by Downing Street and the Prime Minister. That is absolutely unforgivable.”

BBC News presenter then noted: “They could possibly say there was no formal disciplinary action taken against Mr Pincher and so therefore, the matter didn’t reach the threshold to take any action now.”

Sir Roger Gale interjected: “Salmon McDonald in his letter, which I have read very carefully, make it absolutely plain that he does not accept the Downing Street line.”

“And he’s gone to the lengths – the extraordinary length – of making his view known to the Parliamentary Commission for Standard because he clearly feels so outraged in the manner in which the actions that he took have been misrepresented by Mr Johnson.”

When asked about how damaging the new revelations are for Boris Johnson, Mr Gale said: “Well, you begin to wonder, don’t you if whether anything will persuade this Prime Minister that he cannot go on any longer.

“But for me, it merely underscores a concern that I have had about the Prime Minister’s lack of judgment over the whole of his time in office.

“My personal view is that this prime Minister has trashed the reputation of a proud and honourable party for honesty and decency – and that is not acceptable. It cannot go on like this.”

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“I’ve been saying for days now that I was not in favour of changing the rules of the 1922 Committee to permit another vote of no confidence within the one-year-time scale.”

In a dangerous shift of attitude towards Boris Johnson, Mr Gale said: “Lord McDonald’s letter has changed my view. It is so a blatant lie that it has to be acted upon as swiftly as possible by my party.”

Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote in early June with a slim majority of 59 percent, with many Conservative MPs citing Partygate and his dwindling popularity among voters to vote against him. Speculations went that Tory MPs could scrap the one-year cap which protects the Prime Minister from another confidence vote for one year. The 1922 Committee, which oversees the party’s internal matters – have so far not changed the rules.

On the likelihood of the Committee changing the rules and taking action, Mr Gale said: “I had thought not. I’m revising that view.”

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