Sleaze Scandal: Boris Johnson Admits ‘I Could Have Handled Things Better’
Boris Johnson has given his closest statement to an apology yet over the sleaze scandal, saying: “Things could certainly have been handled better by me.”
The prime minister made the comments when quizzed on sleaze allegations engulfing Westminster.
Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “Of course, I think that things could certainly have been handled better let me put it that way…by me.”
The floodgates were opened when No10 tried to save Conservative Party MP Owen Paterson from suspension last week after he was found to have broken the rules by lobbying the government.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Johnson was forced to u-turn and even dismiss suggestions Britain’s political system was corrupt during a press conference at Cop26.
The scandal is cutting through to the electorate, with an Observer/Opinium poll giving Labour a one-point lead over the Tories – the party’s first lead in this set of polling since January.
Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox has come under fire as well as the system for appointing peers and second jobs for MPs. Today’s papers broke fresh stories about Jacob Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Grant Shapps and Keir Starmer.
Labour said that, in light of new information from American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri about her relationship with Johnson while he was mayor of London, the police watchdog should “look again” at its decision to rule out an investigation.
Johnson avoided a criminal investigation earlier this year into his conduct with the businesswoman after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found no evidence he had influenced the payment of thousands of pounds of public money to Arcuri or secured her participation in foreign trade trips he led.
But deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said diary notes from Arcuri published by the Observer on Sunday were “deeply worrying”, and called for the matter to be referred to the IOPC.
According to the newspaper, one handwritten entry recalls that Johnson asked how he could be the “throttle” in her career while he was in City Hall.
As well as having business links, Arcuri has previously claimed that she and Johnson had a four-year romantic relationship when he was mayor.
Labour also wants Commons Leader Rees-Mogg investigated by the standards commissioner over claims in the Mail On Sunday that he failed to declare director’s loans from his company Saliston Limited between 2018 and 2020
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said: “This would appear to be yet another egregious breach of the rules.”