Dominic Raab has been ridiculed on social media today after he was thrown in to defend new lockdown-busting pictures on live TV.
The deputy prime minister appeared on Sky News yesterday, where he was quizzed on the latest allegations involving government officials.
It comes as a photograph was shared with The Guardian after No 10 denied there was a social event on 15 May last year, showing Boris Johnson with wine and cheese alongside his wife and up to 17 staff during lockdown. According to the paper, the gathering took place in May 2020.
At the time, social mixing between households was limited to two people, who were only allowed to meet outside and keep a two-metre distance. But in the photograph, there is a lack of social distancing and 19 people are gathered in groups across the Downing Street terrace and lawn.
Whilst grilling Raab, presenter Kay Burley said: “[Carrie’s] sat down, with the baby, nursing the baby, there’s wine on the table, there’s cheese there, there’s at least 14, 15 other people in the garden.”
“That’s because it’s a place of work, they’re all in suits or predominantly in formal attire … To be honest with you, the prime minister is in a suit, the officials there…,” Raab replied.
He added: “So, some of them have taken their jackets off.”
Burley then replied: “So it’s only a business meeting if you’ve got a suit on?”
Raab told the same thing to Times Radio, prompting the radio’s Matt Chorley to tweet: “Yeah, because nobody ever socialises in a work suit.
“How would he have spotted it was a social gathering? If they were all naked?”
Other Twitter users were also quick to react to the justice secretary’s claim.
Barrister Adam Wagner suggested “Raab may have made things quite a lot worse” for the Tories through his statements.
“Every lawyer has had that witness on their own side who you really want the ground to open up and swallow as they’re giving evidence,” Wagner said.
He added: “Also, ‘all wearing suits’ is obviously ridiculous but also has the serious implication that Raab, as the government’s representative on this and having been fully briefed, really can’t think of a good reason why this meeting was a ‘work’ meeting.”
Meanwhile, Labour MP Bill Esterson said: “Dominic Raab decided to tell the media this morning that despite the wine and cheese, the photo from May last year of the Downing Street party was of a business meeting because people were wearing suits. He and the prime minister really are laughing at us aren’t they.”
And actor David Schneider joked: “Luckily we have Dominic Raab to remind us about the rule of 19 If They’re Wearing Suits And There’s A Baby Present which was definitely in place.”