Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘When the cat’s away, the mice were playing’: Scottish Secretary Alister Jack defends Boris Johnson over party scandals

Alister Jack is loyal to the prime minister
Alister Jack is loyal to the prime minister

The Conservative Scottish Secretary dug in with a loyal defence of under-fire Boris Johnson, suggesting excuses for some of the parties under investigation by police and civil servant Sue Gray.

Alister Jack said the PM could not be blamed for the No10 staff parties and added: “When the cat’s away, the mice were playing.”

The Tory MP claimed his boss was “furious” when he found out about two gatherings which took place before the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest.

Mr Jack’s attempt to shield the Tory leader from criticism came despite Sue Gray’s report confirming police are probing 12 parties held while Covid restrictions are in place.

He was away for three days. When the cat’s away, the mice were playing.

– Alister Jack defends the prime minister.

Events being investigated include the May 2020 Downing Street garden party, a birthday bash for the PM, and an event in his flat on the night Dominic Cummings quit.

‘Serious failures’

In a short version of her report, Sue Gray blasted “serious failures” of leadership.

The civil servant said Boris Johnson and Westminster staff didn’t meet the “high standards” expected of the public while the nation was in lockdown.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday morning, Mr Jack said: “I was particularly upset about the two on the eve of the Duke’s funeral.

“But he knew nothing of them, he wasn’t there, he was 60 miles away, he was away for three days. When the cat’s away, the mice were playing.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. is braced for Sue Gray's report.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Jack defended Douglas Ross and said he is also doing an “excellent” job despite the Holyrood Tory leader urging the prime minister to quit.

The south of Scotland MP refused to be drawn on whether Mr Johnson broke lockdown rules at the party being investigated in his own flat when Mr Cummings left his role.

The Tory loyalist claimed the event could have possibly been a “strategy meeting” if the Conservative leader was there.

He also dismissed reports tunes were blaring from the private flat during a party by saying it could have simply been “someone enjoying loud music”.

‘Very apologetic’

Mr Jack added that the prime minister was “very apologetic” for the parties that unfolded and claimed his statement in the House of Commons was “sincere”.

He said: “I work closely with the Prime Minister. I know he is contrite about what happened.

“I maintain the Prime Minister’s apology is absolutely genuine. He is very angry about the way things unfolded as he learned more and more about things that happened in his office.”

Addressing MPs, Mr Johnson said: “I am sorry for the things that we simply didn’t get right, and for the way this matter has been handled. We must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn.

“I, of course, accept Sue Gray’s general findings in full, and above all her recommendation that we must learn from these events and act now.”

But Labour leader Keir Starmer said the prime minister was “totally unworthy” of his position.

He urged backbench Tory MPs to remove their leader from office and accused his rival of “hiding” behind the police investigation.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal