Rees-Mogg clashes with Marr over 'perspective' of Partygate
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The Brexit opportunities minister, a close confidant of the Prime Minister, dismissed the furore over Mr Johnson’s rule breaking, claiming that there were more “pressing political matters”. He was responding to Mr Marr’s emotional outpour that he was left “intensely angry” over the scandal, as he and many more members of the public were deprived of having proper funerals for their family members by rulemakers who ignored their own instructions.
The LBC host said: “I buried my father on the week that one of those parties took place, and it was a party.
“And he was an elder of the Church of Scotland – that church was locked and barred. We had a small gathering, most of the family weren’t there.
“The other parishioners that he would have loved to be there weren’t allowed to be there because we followed the rules, and I felt intensely angry about that – and I do not regard this as fluff.”
Mr Rees-Mogg admitted that the shutting down of churches was something he regretted, but was otherwise intransigent in his defence of the PM.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “In comparison to the war in Ukraine – with a fundamental threat to the safety of the West from Putin – a fine for something that happened two years ago is not the most pressing political matter.”
He said: “What is happening now two years on against what’s going on in Ukraine, what is going on with the cost of living crisis, one has to get a sense of perspective.
“What is going on in Ukraine is fundamental to the security of the Western world.
“And you are comparing this to a fine issued for something that happened two years ago.”
Before apologising to the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister spoke with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, about the situation in Ukraine.
Tory MPs have pointed to the gratitude of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Mr Johnson, as well as his vital role among NATO leaders, as evidence that he should remain in office.
But senior Labour frontbenchers have called these reasons “reprehensible and utterly ridiculous”.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting MP, speaking to Mr Marr and Mr Rees-Mogg, said: “To use the conflict in Ukraine and people suffering in Ukraine as a fig leaf to defend the Prime Minister – to distract from our problems here at home – is reprehensible and utterly ridiculous.”
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Mr Rees-Mogg is not alone in his suggestions that Ukraine is of greater concern than Partygate, with a number of fellow Tory MPs voicing the same opinion.
Sir Roger Gale, a fierce critic of Mr Johnson who submitted a letter of no confidence last year, performed a u-turn following the Russian invasion.
He said last week: “Under other circumstances, I would be saying that [Mr Johnson] has broken the law that he set and he has misled the House of Commons, and therefore, yes, he should resign.
“But we are in the middle of an international crisis, and we must bear in mind that the United Kingdom, in company with the United States, is leading the coalition in support of Ukraine against Putin.”
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