Peston: Rayner blasts Boris for spending months trying to defend himself over partygate

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The Prime Minister and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak were issued with fixed penalty notices following the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Hillman investigation into partygate. Mr Johnson has come under mounting pressure from MPs, including ex-chief whip Mark Harper, to resign from Number 10.

However, ITV’s Robert Peston questioned whether Labour and other opposition MPs were prioritising partygate over the cost of living crisis.

Inflation hit 7 percent in March and Brits have been hit by an energy price hike of £693.

Speaking to Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, Mr Peston said: “The problem with that, I would say, for many people in the country is that what they mostly care about at the moment is the cost of living, the fact that many of them can’t pay their bills.

“Every time Parliament obsesses about parties, many people out in the country are saying: ‘Why aren’t you talking about the thing that matters to us?'”

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The Ashton-under-Lyne MP, who served as Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Education Secretary for almost four years, replied: “Well, this is the problem because we’ve been continually talking about the cost of living.

“We’ve put forward proposals that we felt the Government should have done, whether that’s not putting the National Insurance contribution hike when they did, whether that was around the windfall tax on the energy companies, we’ve put it forward.

“But the problem is the Prime Minister spent months trying to get around the fact that he broke the law and it keeps coming back.”

Ms Rayner added: “The Prime Minister is not doing the right thing, that I think a majority of MPs who do believe in public service would never try to carry on in this way when they know that they broke the law and misled Parliament.

“I mean it’s pretty simple to me and extraordinary that Boris Johnson believes he can get away with it.”

Despite her response, Mr Peston continued to push the deputy Labour leader over why her colleagues continue to bring up partygate.

However, Ms Rayner appeared to suggest the Labour Party would continue to bring the debate back to partygate until Mr Johnson resigns from Number 10.

She said: “Of course, we keep bringing it back because the Prime Minister is not doing the right thing and it is undermining our democratic process and making us look bad.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged Mr Johnson over partygate.

The Remain-supporting ex-Shadow Brexit Secretary asked several questions about whether the Prime Minister would resign.

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In response, Mr Johnson said: “He asks about the actions for which I take responsibility, and I will tell him: we are going to get on with delivering for the British people, making sure that we power out of the problems that Covid has left us, with more people in work than there were before the pandemic, fixing our energy problems, and leading the world in standing up to the aggression of Vladimir Putin.

“Those are all subjects about which I think he could reasonably ask questions now.”

However, Peston also pushed Ms Rayner after the Leader of the Opposition was criticised for potentially misleading the House of Commons over a reference he made to the Prime Minister allegedly attacking the BBC over its coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The allegation has been rejected by Mr Johnson and Mr Peston cited a transcript obtained by the Daily Mirror which appears to corroborate the Prime Minister’s claim.

Mr Peston and Ms Rayner were joined on ITV’s flagship political programme by co-host Anushka Asthana, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, Tory grandee Andrew Mitchell MP, Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, ex-Number 10 adviser Nick Timothy and screenwriter Richard Curtis.

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