End of Boris: ‘Huge error’ to film Cabinet meeting as members faces expose MPs fury

Boris Johnson briefs cabinet on National Insurance cuts

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Boris Johnson led the meeting with discussions on the cost of living despite facing accusations of a “cover-up” over his appointment of Chris Pincher after a former senior official said the Prime Minister was briefed “in person” about an investigation into his conduct. Lord McDonald of Salford, the ex-permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, said the account given by Downing Street of how Mr Pincher came to be made deputy chief whip was “not true”. Cross-party advocacy group Best for Britain shared a video of the tense meeting on Twitter.

It said: “Huge mistake to let cameras into cabinet meeting today. Look at the grim faces around that table.

“Compare to previous occasions. Look at Sajid Javid, Therese Coffey – one of the ministers sent out with a misleading briefing.

“Look at Michael Gove! Even Nadine Dorries knows the gig is up. Not a happy ship.”

Rachel Love-Howseman added: “Therese Coffey giving Boris Johnson a hard stare in Cabinet meeting this morning.”

While Gareth Williams noted: “If a picture paints a thousand words, this footage of the UK government’s cabinet meeting this morning is encyclopedic in what it says about Boris Johnson’s lack of leadership.

“The body language being displayed by almost everyone is absolutely fascinating!”

Following Mr Pincher’s dramatic resignation last week over allegations he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club, No 10 has been accused of shifting its account of what Mr Johnson knew of his past conduct when he made him deputy chief whip in February.

In his letter, Lord McDonald said that in the summer of 2019, shortly after Mr Pincher was made Europe minister, a complaint by a group of officials about his conduct was investigated and upheld, and the Prime Minister informed of the outcome.

Downing Street initially claimed that Mr Johnson had not been aware of any “specific allegations” against Mr Pincher at the time of the February reshuffle.

Tory grandee Sir Roger Gale blasts Boris Johnson

But after reports over the weekend of repeated alleged instances of Mr Pincher making unwanted sexual advances to men, it said that while the Prime Minister had known of concerns, they had been either “resolved” or there had been no formal complaint and that any allegations were unsubstantiated.

However, Lord McDonald said this was still not accurate.

“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.”


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Speaking later on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Lord McDonald said that Mr Johnson had been told of the 2019 investigation at 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 said.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time, said he had asked Lord McDonald to investigate a complaint of “inappropriate conduct” in October 2019 but that the mandarin had concluded disciplinary action 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 told LBC radio.

“I spoke directly to Chris Pincher in no uncertain terms and I referred it to the Cabinet Office to seek that assurance.”


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