Times columnist calls Welsh Secretary a ‘stooge’ for Boris Johnson defence
Simon Hart has come under further fire following his defence last week of Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister was hit with the first of what could be multiple partygate fines.
In a blistering column for the Sunday Times Matthew Syed accuses the Welsh Secretary of demeaning himself in a series of TV interviews and accuses MPs backing Boris Johnson of being “complicit in the creeping normalisation of deceit in public life”.
The Welsh Secretary was the man selected by the Conservative Government to defend the PM in a series of media interviews on Wednesday, at least one of which was widely described as a “car crash”
In an exchange with Sky News’ Kay Burley about the fines issued to Downing Street, Mr Hart appeared confused about how many fines had exactly been issued and denied that Boris Johnson had deliberately misled people with initial denials that he had not attended any parties during lockdown.
In a later interview with Times Radio, the Welsh Secretary said he didn’t think the Prime Minister should resign even if he receives multiple fines as a result of the Metropolitan Police’s probe into the series of parties held in Downing Street during the Covid lockdown.
In his column Matthew Syed says of Mr Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire:
“It was probably the greatest honour of his life to become secretary of state for Wales in 2019,” he writes.
“Last week, though, he performed a different role as the man nominated to defend the prime minister in the aftermath of partygate. Lightly sweating and with eyes betraying rising panic, he toured the studios performing intellectual contortions worthy of the Kama Sutra.
“He told Kay Burley that he didn’t know how many fines had been issued (despite a police statement issued on the matter that morning) and Nick Ferrari that “at the time, they were not considered to be offences”.
“On Times Radio, he watched disbelievingly as his own lips managed to claim that five fixed penalty notices would be no worse than one.
“He was seeking (one imagines) to pre-empt future fines being issued to the PM but he succeeded only in becoming the latest stooge to demean himself in the service of a serial liar”.
Jeez! The car crash interview of the year. Cabinet Minister Simon Hart didn’t know there had been more then fifty fines issued by the police for law breaking in Downing Street!
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) April 14, 2022
Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were all issued with fines on Tuesday relating to a gathering in the Cabinet Room on 19 June 2020 to mark Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.
Multiple newspapers have carried reports suggesting the Prime Minister could receive further fixed penalty notices.
Downing Street sources said they were awaiting the outcome of the ongoing Scotland Yard inquiry after Mr Johnson conceded more fines could follow, having reportedly attended six of the 12 events under investigation.
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