Keir Starmer reveals how he 'set trap' for Boris Johnson over partygate scandal

22 June 2024, 10:40 | Updated: 22 June 2024, 14:54

Sir Keir Starmer said he always suspected Boris Johnson's relationship with the truth "would bring him down"- as he revealed how he "set a trap" for the ex-prime minister over the partygate scandal.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Labour leader said he "couldn't care less" about the insults Mr Johnson hurled at him over the despatch box, including when the then PM called him a "pointless human bollard".

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"I'm not saying I have great insight, but I felt his character would bring him down," he told the newspaper.

"I thought, there's a guy who is detached from the truth. Whether he's lying or not, it doesn't matter to him."

Sir Keir then laid out the specific way he "set a trap" for Mr Johnson to catch him out over the Downing Street parties scandal, according to The Guardian.

He said: "When I first asked him, 'Did you apply all the rules?' I hadn't seen the video of Allegra [Stratton, then director of strategic communications].

"But he was told about her laughing in response to being asked, 'What do we say about the parties?' So I said [to my team], 'I think there's something here. Let's get him on record. Because his instinct will be to lie.'

The former director of public prosecutions added: "It was a thread that we pulled over months. I was less bothered by what he was saying to me than trying to be forensic and getting him on the record. It paid dividends in the end. He had to leave parliament - because he'd lied."

Ms Stratton resigned in December 2021 over a video which showed her laughing about a Downing Street Christmas party, which happened when London was under strict COVID restrictions.

Mr Johnson lasted seven more months, narrowly surviving a no-confidence motion triggered by outrage within his party at reports of repeated rule-breaking in Downing Street.

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and then chancellor Rishi Sunak were among 83 people fined over lockdown-breaching events in Downing Street during the pandemic, when the nation lived under strict social distancing restrictions.

The scandal meant Mr Johnson was on thin ice by the time the Chris Pincher affair emerged - sparking a wave of mass resignations which ultimately brought him down.

Mr Johnson was later found to have "deliberately" misled MPs over the partygate scandal by a Commons inquiry - a ruling which led to him quitting parliament altogether, claiming he was the victim of a "witch-hunt".

The former Tory leader has always denied misleading colleagues over the parties, insisting that when he claimed "all rules had been followed", that is what he believed to be true at the time.