Boris Johnson lockdown parties: Dominic Raab denies Downing Street has drinking culture

Dominic Raab has said he does not recognise the “caricature” about Number 10 as he denied there was a drinking culture in Downing Street.

The deputy prime minister told Sky News when he was running the country, while Boris Johnson was in hospital with COVID, the staff at Number 10 worked “phenomenally hard under gruelling conditions”.

He told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “I do not personally recognise the caricature that they were all partying, this was incredibly serious and difficult and a dedicated team.

“I’m just telling you what I saw, my experience.”

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Mr Johnson is facing calls from within his own party for his resignation after it emerged several events took place during England’s lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

On Monday, Mr Johnson’s former top adviser, Dominic Cummings, accused the PM of lying to parliament by saying he thought a May 2020 garden party was a work event as he claimed Mr Johnson gave it the go-ahead.

Mr Raab said he did not want to get “drawn in to the soap opera” of claims and repeated the line ministers have taken over the past two weeks that they will wait for Sue Gray’s investigation into lockdown events at Downing Street and Whitehall to finish.

He added that it was “ridiculous” the May 2020 party was in honour of him for taking over as PM while Mr Johnson was in hospital, as has been claimed.

“It was nonsense, I wasn’t invited and I didn’t attend,” he said.

When is Sue Gray inquiry due to finish and what could it mean for the PM?

Mr Raab added that he felt “as frustrated as anyone else” by the multiple claims of parties in Whitehall and Downing Street during different lockdowns.

“I think double standards are toxic, I get all of that, I get the frustration,” he added.

“But Number 10 has apologised for that, it was right to apologise for it.

“Of course, I want to see compliance, I’m a lawyer by heart, I also recognise as lawmakers the government has got to be seen to take a lead, show it is acting to the highest standards otherwise how can we expect others to follow it?”

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