Sunak explains Commons vote absence was due to keynote speech at Jewish Care dinner

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Sunak explains Commons vote absence was due to keynote speech at Jewish Care dinner

PM told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg he missed vote “because I was at a fantastic charity called Jewish Care, which does an extraordinary job looking after people”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting Jewish Care client, Leon. (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting Jewish Care client, Leon. (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2023

Rishi Sunak said he demonstrated his integrity when he resigned from Boris Johnson’s government as he defended his decision to skip a Commons vote on the Privileges Committee report.

The Prime Minister reiterated his full support and respect for both the committee’s “diligent work” and the decision made by MPs on Monday.

He explained his absence from the Commons was due to his involvement in an event organised by the charity Jewish Care, but stressed that his resignation from Mr Johnson’s government had already demonstrated his integrity and commitment to his principles.

MPs voted to approve the Privileges Committee report last week, which found Mr Johnson deliberately misled Parliament over parties at Downing Street during lockdown.

The PM was notably absent during the debate and the vote and has since been facing accusations of being too “weak” to stand up to his former party leader.

Asked whether he agreed with the verdict of the Committee, he told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “Yes, I have already said in fact that I do fully support and respect not just the work of the Committee, who I think did a very thorough job, but also the decision of the House.

“It’s right for people, whatever their position, face responsibility and accountability for their actions. That has happened and most importantly, Boris Johnson is no longer an MP.”

Craig David performing at Jewish Care’s Annual Dinner (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2023

The Prime Minister insisted “I was a person that as chancellor resigned from Boris Johnson’s government” and explained he missed the vote “because I was actually speaking and attending an event at a fantastic charity called Jewish Care, which does an extraordinary job looking after people around the country”.

He went on: “Your point is, do I have to demonstrate my integrity and my leadership? I did that when I resigned.

“I demonstrated that I was prepared to stand up for what I believe in…

“It is not an easy or common thing for a chancellor to resign from government.

“I did because I disagreed with Boris Johnson.”

Turning the focus away from the past and redirecting it towards the next general election, the PM added: “I am not interested in litigating the past about Boris Johnson.

“He’s no longer an MP.

“The choice at the next election is between me and Keir Starmer.

“Actually, what I demonstrated by resigning from Boris Johnson’s government was that I was prepared to stand up for my principles.

“Keir Starmer sat there for four years next to Jeremy Corbyn, saying he was the right person to lead our country.. That speaks to his principles, my resignation speaks to mine.”
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