Dominic Raab Says Johnson Can Be Trusted Over Sleaze... Because Of Brexit

The deputy prime minister claimed he had "total faith" in Boris Johnson.
Dominic Raab speaking on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday
Dominic Raab speaking on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday
BBC Breakfast

Dominic Raab had a rather unusual explanation for why he had total faith in Boris Johnson’s handling of the Tory sleaze scandal as he referred back to Brexit.

Raab, the deputy prime minister, was fielding questions about Downing Street’s handling of the sleaze row which the Conservative Party has been particularly embroiled in over recent weeks.

It began when the government whipped its MPs to vote against a 30-day suspension for Owen Paterson after he was found guilty of breaching parliament’s lobbying rules, before public backlash forced a Downing Street U-turn and Paterson resigned.

But the damage was already done to the Tories’ reputation.

While interviewing the deputy prime minister, BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty referred to the prime minister’s reported admission on Tuesday that he had “crashed the car” when it came to handling the disciplinary case of Paterson, and that’s why he appeared to have backtracked on the sleaze debate.

She asked: “Did you agree with how he was handling it up until now?”

Raab replied: ″I’ve discussed this with him – of course, as a close colleague, I’m not going to divulge the nature of the conversation but I totally support him in fixing the problem.

“We have collective responsibility in government, we stand and fall together.”

In Parliament on Tuesday night, MPs voted for a ban on paid lobbying in the political realm on consultancy and overall limit of external interests. The government’s vote was described by Labour as “warm words” rather than a plan of action.

Munchetty then added: “Do you have faith in the prime minister’s judgement?”

He replied: “I’ve got total faith – this is the prime minister who has successfully dealt with getting us through Brexit.

“He clearly won an unprecedented majority [in 2019], he’s led the way with a vaccine rollout which has been a real success both in Europe and globally.”

This is not the first time cabinet ministers have fallen back on Brexit to prove that Johnson is trustworthy.

BBC’s Nick Robinson asked energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in November: “Name a single thing that Boris Johnson has done to deliver higher integrity and probity in public life.”

He replied: “I could do lots of things – we had a manifesto commitment to deliver Brexit and we delivered Brexit.

“That was something we promised to do and the prime minister led a government to do that.”

However, Brexit itself is under intense scrutiny yet again due to the Northern Ireland Protocol, and even Brexit minister Lord David Frost has trashed the UK’s divorce deal with the EU which he once championed.

It means further negotiations with the trade bloc have taken place to resolve tension over Northern Ireland even though Johnson was elected to Downing Street in 2019 on the repeated pledge to “Get Brexit Done”.