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Prime Minister may not have heard party downstairs at Number 10 – New Forest MP Sir Desmond Swayne

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THE Prime Minister could have been in his Downing Street flat and not heard a party going on downstairs, Sir Desmond Swayne has insisted.

Amid the current furore over possible parties at Number 10 last Christmas – which would have broken lockdown rules – the New Forest West MP has leapt to Boris Johnson’s defence.

The PM is coming under increasing pressure to reveal if there were parties, if he knew about them and who attended them.

Sir Desmond Swayne
Sir Desmond Swayne

Some MPs have even suggested that if the answer is 'yes' to any of those questions, his position is untenable and he should resign.

Mr Johnson has publicly denied being at parties, and has set up an inquiry to investigate.

He also apologised after his former spokesperson, Allegra Stratton, resigned over a mock press conference she gave, during which she made flippant comments about the parties and laughed.

Writing on his website, Sir Desmond said it was “entirely possible” that Mr Johnson could have been at Number 10, and not known there was a party going on.

10 Downing Street (picture: palinchak/123rf.com)
10 Downing Street (picture: palinchak/123rf.com)

“Number 10 Downing Street isn’t a house, it is just a front door which gives access to a large suite of open-plan offices and meeting rooms on three floors stretching all the way to the Cabinet Office and largely populated by career civil servants,” Sir Desmond said.

“The PM’s flat is in the rafters above Number 11 Downing Street.

“Having been in the flat a number of times under a former regime, I can attest that, once inside, it is perfectly possible not to have any idea of what is happening behind the front door of Number 10.”

Former press secretary Allegra Stratton announces her resignation (picture: Jonathan Brady/PA)
Former press secretary Allegra Stratton announces her resignation (picture: Jonathan Brady/PA)

He added that many constituents had “demanded” to know his stance over the parties.

“Well, as I wasn’t there, it seems reasonable to await the findings of the Cabinet Secretary, rather than rely on the assumptions of screaming headlines,” he said.

Sir Desmond repeated his claims during a House of Commons debate into the party investigation.

Boris Johnson (picture: PA)
Boris Johnson (picture: PA)

During that, Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope tackled the government over its comment that “minsters, special advisors and civil servants” will be “expected to co-operate” with the investigation.

He added: “What will happen if they do not co-operate? Will they be required to incriminate themselves?

“Does this also apply to other guests present, including members of the press?”

Paymaster general Michael Ellis said that was a matter for the investigator, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

“One would expect him to take a robust course,” he added.

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