Alistair Campbell slams Boris Johnson for not 'telling the truth'

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Alastair Campbell appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss the Downing Street gatherings and condemned the Conservative Party for being manipulative with the truth. But radio host Tony Livesley tried to offer a balanced debate due to the absence of Tory defenders and challenged Mr Campbell on his involvement in the Iraq War and the findings of the Chilcott Inquiry. Mr Campbell accepted that was an important issue was grew frustrated at the BBC’s impartiality where the main topic of No10 parties was being sidelined due to the broadcaster wishing to offer alternative views.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Campbell attacked the Prime Minister for the Downing Street party emails and said it was unlikely that it did not come across Boris Johnson before it was sent.

Mr Campbell also said he has been contacted by many Tory MPs who are angry at the news but was frustrated that none of them had “put their head above the parapet” to condemn Mr Johnson.

But host Mr Livesey tried to offer a balanced debate by putting to Mr Campbell that he and Sir Tony had issues with the truth regarding the Iraq War and brought up the million signatures against the former prime minister’s knighthood.

Mr Campbell dismissed the challenge and said there were things that deserve to be angry about “today”.

He told the station: “The thing about Johnson, I’ve known Johnson for a very long time, he likes getting into scrapes so he can show that he can get out of them.”

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Host Mr Livesey then remarked: “Just to end, your position we could have predicted before you came on and that’s fair enough.

“Just on that business about the inquiry from Sue Grey, you’ve kind of cast out on that, I presume you and Tony Blair authorised a number of inquiries when you were in power?

“So it’s a well-tried and tested method of kicking the can down the road, so you’re saying under your remit with Tony Blair that nothing similar was done?”

Mr Campbell was taken back by the question and began criticising the challenges put to him.

He said: “I honestly feel that sometimes because you feel that you’ve got to have this sort of balance and fairness, I don’t honestly think how anyone can sit there… and say with some form of conviction that we have a prime minister that tells the truth.”

Mr Campbell discussed how the Prime Minister tells lies in the House of Commons before Mr Livesey again challenged Mr Campbell on his history with Sir Tony.

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Mr Livesey added: “We could go around in circles and have a million people saying you were involved in a government that didn’t tell the truth either.

“I suppose two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Mr Campbell said it was an “obsession” to paint everyone as “bad as each other” with Mr Livesey saying he did not want to get into an “existential debate” on the BBC.

As the interview wound to a close, Mr Campbell argued “right-wing populists”, like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, sought to distract people from facts so they are ignored.

Mr Livesey said it could be argued that Mr Campbell did that about the Iraq war.

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Mr Campbell said: “You’ve made those points, but by doing that you’re proving my point. The question about Iraq has gone over many times and will continue to do so.

“We are talking here about a specific situation where the country was ordered by the Prime Minister not to go out and not to move…

“At that time, his principal private secretary, who in any well-run government is not doing that without the support of the Prime Minister, is inviting people to bring your own booze to a party.

“Please don’t tell me they are the same thing.”

Mr Livesey defended his position after revealing people were texting in calling him “Tory boy Livesey” for backing the Government.

He said because there was a lack of Conservative MPs defending Downing Street he was forced to provide an “alternative point of view”.

Listeners also showed their annoyance at the interview with @dean_farida writing: “That was a frustrating listen, desperate BBC impartiality desperation.”

@Cliffhughes also wrote: “Great interview, shame that the BBC tried to find equivalence with the Iraq War which is ridiculous.”

ITV News published an email allegedly sent by Martin Reynolds, who runs the Prime Minister’s private office, which asked Downing Street staffers if they wanted to attend a boozy gathering.

The email, believed to have been sent to over 100 people, read: “Hi all, After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

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