Tory leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat today said Boris Johnson’s account of partygate was “more fictional than reality”.
The Tory leadership hopeful skewered the prime minister over his account of the scandal that led to the downfall of his administration.
However, the MP for Tonbridge and Malling dodged a question about whether he would serve in the cabinet of a prime minister who had broken the law.
In the first TV debate on Friday night, Tugendhat received a round of applause when he flatly said Johnson was not an honest man.
It set him apart from his rivals who were unable to give a straight verdict on the prime minister’s integrity.
Asked what Johnson had been dishonest about on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Tugendhat said: “We wouldn’t have been having that debate on Friday night had the others not agreed with me.
“We know very well the others agree with me because otherwise they wouldn’t have resigned from his government, they wouldn’t be standing as leadership candidates.”
Pressed on what Johnson had been dishonest about, Tugendhat replied: “It’s perfectly clear that the alignment of stories that he came to on the partygate scandal seems to have been rather more fictional than reality.”
Asked if he would work for a prime minister who broke the law, Tugendhat said: “I’ve been very clear about my policies on all of this. I think that what we need to be doing is making sure that we bring about integrity into politics.
“And that’s why I’ve spoken about bringing back a ministerial standards commissioner.”
Pressed on the matter, Tugendhat suggested presenter Sophie Raworth was trying to “have a go” at Rishi Sunak who received a partygate fine.
Pushed again, he replied referring to the current prime minister: “Well, I haven’t worked for this one.”
His critics say Tugendhat cannot get the numbers to be PM and is instead in the running for a cabinet position in the next administration.
It comes after the government was accused of hiding how much taxpayers spent on legal advice for officials accused in the partygate scandal.
The Government Legal Department – an in-house legal organisation – has refused to even confirm or deny if their lawyers advised those being investigated by the police.
Meanwhile, Johnson has been told to hand over a huge number of documents including his diaries to MPs investigating whether he lied to parliament over partygate.
Tory MPs hope to have reduced the search for Johnson’s successor, due to be announced on September 5, to two possibilities in the coming days.
Monday will see the third round of voting with the aim of whittling down candidates to the final two by Thursday, before the summer recess.
The final two will then go forward to a postal ballot of party members.
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