The Downing Street media briefing immediately following prime minister’s questions was dominated by queries about a social event in the No 10 garden in May 2020, and what Boris Johnson knew about it. There were, however, remarkably few answers.
Below is a list of questions not answered on Wednesday by Johnson’s official spokesperson and his press secretary.
Did Johnson know about the event in advance?
Beyond saying Johnson did not see and was not sent an email organising the event sent by the senior official Martin Reynolds, no answer: “He did not see the email, and as he said, he believed the events in question were within the rules.”
When did Johnson first learn a social event was taking place in his own garden?
“All I will say is to repeat what he [Johnson] said: ‘It was my view implicitly that this was a work event.’”
How did he first learn about the event?
“As I said, he did not see the email. Beyond that, he set out a clear account of this in his statement.”
Did the PM notice that guests had drinks and food?
“On those specific allegations and speculation, those matters will rightly remain for the independent review to look at and determine.”
Was his then fiancee, Carrie Johnson, there?
“I don’t plan to add anything on this. This is a matter for the independent review to determine.”
Were any other ministers there, for example Dominic Raab?
“Again, I’m afraid this is going to be fairly repetitive, but matters around the guidance, the nature of the gatherings, attendance, settings and purpose rightly remain a matter for the independent review.”
To the PM’s press secretary – were you there?
“Again, matters around guidance, the nature of the gatherings, attendance, are a matter for the independent review.”
Did Johnson have a drink there?
“Again, I’m afraid the details around the nature of the event are a matter for the independent review. You would not expect me to pre-empt any of the findings.”
How frequently does he drink at work?
“I wouldn’t comment on that one.”
Did the PM, as the invitation suggested, bring a bottle?
“Same answer. That gets into matters around the nature of the gathering, and guidance.”
How did the PM thank staff, as he said he did in his Commons statement?
“Again, on all of the matters around those specific details, that will be for the independent review to determine.”
Why does the PM believe the event might not have breached rules?
“I’m going to have to just refer you to what he said.”
When did the PM realise attending the event was unwise?
“Again, he’s obviously not pre-empting the findings. He said in his statement that while he cannot anticipate the conclusions of the inquiry, he has learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right.”
Does the PM stand by earlier statements that he has abided by Covid rules?
“Again, he’s not pre-empting the findings of the report. All of these matters remain a matter for the independent review to determine.”
Will he accept any recommendations from Sue Gray, the senior civil servant leading the inquiry?
“I don’t know exactly what format Sue Gray will set out in the review. But it has our backing.”
Can No 10 say when the review will be done?
“I’m afraid not. As we’ve said numerous times, it’s an independent process.”
Has the PM been interviewed by Gray or her team?
“We wouldn’t get into the details of an independent inquiry. But as we’ve said before, the inquiry, and Sue Gray, has access to all individuals that are required to be spoken to.”
Has Carrie Johnson been interviewed?
“I would refer to the terms of reference. But the inquiry has access to all information and relevant individuals.”
Is the PM about to resign, or could he after the report is published?
“He is not, but beyond that it is a hypothetical question.”
Why is answering basic factual questions pre-empting the report?
“He [Johnson] has set out his understanding going into the event. We cannot pre-empt the findings of that review.”