Boris Johnson: British public 'don't give a monkey's' about Downing Street leaks

23 April 2021, 18:37 | Updated: 24 April 2021, 07:30

Boris Johnson has denied Dominic Cummings' accusations
Boris Johnson has denied Dominic Cummings' accusations. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has claimed the British public "don't give a monkey's" about reports he tried to block an inquiry into a Government leak because his fiancee's friend could have been implicated.

The Prime Minister has come under fire after a series of texts to entrepreneur Sir James Dyson were handed to the BBC.

In those, he promised to "fix" the issue of the tax status of Dyson employees who would come to the UK to make ventilators as the Covid-19 pandemic took off.

There have been allegations his former adviser Dominic Cummings, who left Downing Street last year, was behind the text revelations.

But the former Vote Leave chief rejected this in a furious blog post, in which he denied doing so.

Read more: Dominic Cummings denies leaking Prime Minister's text messages

Explosively, he also alleged that Mr Johnson blocked an inquiry into who leaked plans for another lockdown last year because a person who was suggested as the cause was a friend of Carrie Symonds, the PM's partner.

Cummings claimed Mr Johnson remarked he would have to fire Henry Newman if he was found to be the leaker, which Cummings said the PM said would pose a problem.

Dominic Cummings posted explosive allegations on Friday
Dominic Cummings posted explosive allegations on Friday. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

Asked if he wanted to block the inquiry because of that, Mr Johnson told LBC on Friday afternoon, on a visit to Hartlepool: "Of course not. I think people are interested in the substance of what we're doing.

"We tried to secure as many ventilators as we could as fast as we could."

He said he had not seen Mr Cummings' statement.

"I don’t think people give a monkey's about this issue, what they care about is what we'll be doing to protect the health of the British public," he added.

Read more: 'PM was right to hire Dominic Cummings' former Tory adviser says

Downing Street later said Mr Johnson has never interfered in a Government leak inquiry.

A statement added: "At all times, the Government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law.

"Cabinet Office officials have been engaged and informed throughout and official advice has been followed.

"All reportable donations are transparently declared to and published - either by the Electoral Commission or the House of Commons registrar, in line with the requirements set out in electoral law.

"Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns."

In his blog post, Mr Cummings said a meeting was held with the Prime Minister in which the leaker of information about a forthcoming lockdown was alleged to be Mr Newman.

Mr Johnson, according to Mr Cummings, described him as "best friends" with Ms Symonds and said if he had to fire him it would "cause me very serious problems".

Mr Cummings said the PM then asked if he could get the leak inquiry stopped, which the adviser branded "mad and totally unethical".

He said he told the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to continue with the investigation.

Labour has called for an inquiry into Mr Johnson's conduct following revelations about the Dyson texts and David Cameron's lobbying.

Mr Johnson has said he has "nothing to conceal" while Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously told Labour that Mr Cameron's lobbying efforts for Greensill Capital were referred to officials at the time and "appropriate consultations" were held.

Mr Cameron was cleared of wrongdoing.