Boris Johnson has said anyone who suspects he deliberately covered up lockdown parties in Number 10 is “out of their mind”.
The former prime minister said the claim was “strictly for the birds”, despite an investigation into alleged lying to Parliament over lockdown breaches.
He says he has been “respectful” to an inquiry by the Commons privileges committee, which is probing whether he deliberately misled parliament.
The committee’s seven MPs will assess whether the former prime minister has committed “contempt of parliament”, which is anything that prevents parliament from functioning properly.
But in an interview with one of his most prominent conservative supporters, Nadine Dorries, on TalkTV, Johnson said: “But I’ll repeat what I’ve said before, and I hope it’s clear to everyone who also thinks that I was intentionally going to parties that were breaking lockdown rules in number 10, or intentionally covering up parties that were illegal that other people were going to, all of which are strictly for the birds, “They said.
“And if anyone thinks so, they are out of their mind.”
Johnson’s interview will be broadcast on Friday during Doris’ debut show on the Murdoch-owned channel.
Johnson also defended his team at Downing Street, claiming they were “thinking hard” about Covid testing and vaccine rollout at the time.
“We all thought that what we were doing – or, of course, I thought that what we were doing – was within the rules. And what we certainly thought was that we were doing something for the country. Were working hard blindly on the bigger priorities,” he said.
The former prime minister, ousted from office by the Conservatives following a series of scandals, is expected to give evidence to the inquiry in the coming months.
He has repeatedly told the Commons that there is no rule-breaking party in Downing Street and that rules are followed at all times.
But the Metropolitan Police issued 126 fines for breaches of Covid rules, including Johnson’s, for offenses spanning a series of gatherings in 2020 and 2021.
The Privileges Committee is sifting through a trove of written evidence handed over by Downing Street to Rishi Sunak.
If the committee rules Johnson lied to Parliament and is approved for a suspension of more than 10 days, he could face a contested by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.